Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Gainsborough Portrait Highlights Bonhams Old Master Paintings Sale

A recently discovered portrait by one of Britain’s most loved and respected 18th Century artists, Thomas Gainsborough, (British 1727-1788), is to be sold in Bonhams Sale of Old Master Paintings on 9 July at 101 New Bond Street, London. The oil painting, which has never been seen at auction before, is expected to fetch £80,000-120,000.

gainsborough.jpgThe portrait – a previously unrecorded work by Gainsborough – was examined and authenticated by the leading expert on the artist, Hugh Besley, at the end of last year. The painting has been in the same family since it was commissioned in 1760 however, it was not until the recent investigations that its true importance was realised. The oil on canvas painting features Humphrey Hall (1738-1801), son of Thomas Hall (1692-1748) a London merchant who made his fortune in the China Trade. Humphrey elevated the family from merchant class to gentry when he married the daughter of Lord St John. The Hall family residence, Goldings, in Hertfordshire, was sold by Humphrey in 1770 and he moved to Manadon near Plymouth.

Thomas Gainsborough was one of the greatest portrait painters of the 18th Century as well as being a truly original landscape artist. No other painter applied himself so successfully to both genres although he freely admitted that he preferred landscapes and, like most artists, painted portraits in order to earn a living. It was for this reason that Gainsborough moved his young family from Ipswich to Bath – a city continually bustling with wealthy visitors – in 1758. The artist, who married the illegitimate daughter of a Duke, was able to rent to largest property in Bath on account of an annuity of £200 that was granted to his wife.

The portrait to be sold by Bonhams dates from Gainsborough’s first years in Bath and the relaxed pose of the arm hooked over the back of the chair was one that the artist adopted and used frequently later in his career. Hall appears to have come to the studio fresh from riding since he holds his whip in his right hand and black tricorn hat in the other. The fob hanging from his waist confirms that he is a man of distinction. Hall is posed next to a window with a view of the countryside rather than the view of the city that must have been visible to his sitter.

Bonhams sale will also feature a stunning scene of the Piazza del Popolo in Rome by the Dutch landscape artist Gaspar van Wittel (1653-1736). Last seen at auction in 1923, the painting is expected to fetch £500,000-700,000. The view of the Piazza del Popolo would have had particular resonance for foreigners on the Grand Tour as it often afforded travellers their first glimpse of Rome.

The Dutch born Gaspar van Wittel completed his training in Amersfoort but moved to Rome in 1675, italianising his name to Vanvitelli. He is one of the principal painters of topographical views known as vedute, a particularly eighteenth century phenomenon. Although the origins of vedutismo can be found in the printed and drawn topographical images of the earlier seventeenth century and in the paintings of Joseph Heintz the younger, Vanvitelli is often considered the first specialist view painter.

Bonhams Old Master Paintings Sale will be held on 9 July at 101 New Bond Street, London. You can find out more about the sale by visiting the website at