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Charles North, 5th Baron North de Kirtling and Baron Grey de Rolleston

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    England, Great Britain (painted)

  • Date:

    1670-1680 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ashfield, Edmund (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on vellum put down on a leaf from a table-book

  • Museum number:

    P.42-1987

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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This miniature is one of a group of five portraits of members of the North family. In his Seventeenth-century English Miniatures in the Collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum (1997), John Murdoch notes that the miniatures were probably painted by Edmund Ashfield (worked 1669-90). He thought this because of the signature ‘E.A’ that is found at the lower centre right on another miniature from this group. This is of Charles North, 5th Baron North de Kirtling (catalogue number 131 in Murdoch’s book; Museum number P.42-1987).

Edmund Ashfield was a painter in oil and ‘crayon’ (what is called today ‘pastel’), but it was long thought that he had also painted miniatures. This group apparently supports this belief.

Physical description

Portrait of a man, half-length, to front and wearing a long wig and patterned neckcloth. Features hatched and stippled in brown and sanguine, modelled with blue, grey and touches of white, especially in the eyes, and some dark gum in the nostrils, on a warm carnation ground; the hair in brown wash, worked over in darker colour with the lights in ochre and grey; cloak in blue washes, shaded with darker colour and highlights in white; shirt bare vellum, shaded in grey and blue; ruff a brown wash, modelled in thick white and shaded with grey and brown; background a pale brown wash, painted over almost transparently in dark brown; on vellum put down on a leaf from a table-book.

Frame: An oval frame, turned ebony of bolection moulding with additional grooves at the outer and inner edges; the inner ring possibly made separately; the convex glass set in a rebate; a plain brass ring for the hanger, with traces of original gilding, held by a pin driven through the wood at the top. A fruitwood backboard inscribed in graphite: Charles Lord North / Lord Grey.

Place of Origin

England, Great Britain (painted)

Date

1670-1680 (painted)

Artist/maker

Ashfield, Edmund (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on vellum put down on a leaf from a table-book

Marks and inscriptions

'EA'
'3'

Dimensions

Height: 83 mm, Width: 68 mm

Object history note

Provenance: Until 1690, Charles, 5th Baron North de Kirtling; until 1734, William, 6th Baron; his wife, Maria Margareta (born ‘de jonge van Ellemete’). who married secondly in 1735 Patrick Murray, 5th Lord Elibank; his illegitimate son Patrick Murray of Simprim, Forfarshire (d.c.1854); his daughter Maria Margaretta (d.1873) who married in 1842 James, Baron Talbot de Malahide; her eldest daughter Susan-Ann, who married in 1864 Cecil St John Ives, subsequently Major-General; their second daughter Marion who married her third husband in 1923, Godfrey Waiter, 2nd Baron Phillimore; she died in 1950; the miniatures sold to the Museum by private treaty with two of her heirs, 1987.

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of Charles North, 5th Baron North de Kirtling and Baron Grey de Rolleston, watercolour on vellum by Edmund Ashfield, 1670-1680.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Emma Rutherford and Bendor Grosvenor, Secret Faces London: Philip Mould Ltd, 2008.
John Murdoch, Seventeenth-century English Miniatures in the Collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London: The Stationery Office in association with the Victoria & Albert Museum, 1997.
Cat.131, pp.229-230. Full Citation:

131 Charles North, 5th Baron North de Kirtling and Baron Grey de Rolleston
(b.1635 d.1690/1)
1670-80
P42-1987

Oval 83 x 68mm

Features hatched and stippled in brown and sanguine, modelled with blue, grey and touches of white, especially in the eyes, and some dark gum in the nostrils, on a warm carnation ground; the hair in brown wash, worked over in darker colour with the lights in ochre and grey; cloak in blue washes, shaded with darker colour and highlights in white; shirt bare vellum, shaded in grey and blue; ruff a brown wash, modelled in thick white and shaded with grey and brown; background a pale brown wash, painted over almost transparently in dark brown; on vellum put down on a leaf from a table-book.

Condition: Slight fading but otherwise excellent.

Signed: Lower centre right in grey: EA. (see A in Appendix 2); and on the back in silver-point: 3.

Frame: An oval frame, turned ebony of bolection moulding with additional grooves at the outer and inner edges; the inner ring possibly made separately; the convex glass set in a rebate; a plain brass ring for the hanger, with traces of original gilding, held by a pin driven through the wood at the top. A fruitwood backboard inscribed in graphite: Charles Lord North / Lord Greywith flourishes; and in ink: Charles Lord North & Grey; and the same on an old label on the paper backing; all apparently in the same late eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century hand.

Provenance: Until 1690, Charles, 5th Baron North de Kirtling; until 1734, William, 6th Baron; his wife, Maria Margareta (born ‘de jonge van Ellemete’). who married secondly in 1735 Patrick Murray, 5th Lord Elibank; his illegitimate son Patrick Murray of Simprim, Forfarshire (d.c.1854); his daughter Maria Margaretta (d.1873) who married in 1842 James, Baron Talbot de Malahide; her eldest daughter Susan-Ann, who married in 1864 Cecil St John Ives, subsequently Major-General; their second daughter Marion who married her third husband in 1923, Godfrey Waiter, 2nd Baron Phillimore; she died in 1950; the miniatures sold to the Museum by private treaty with two of her heirs, 1987.

This signed work apparently substantiates Edmund Ashfield as a miniaturist as well as a painter in oil and' crayon'. Though no other works have emerged since 1987 to join the group presented here, the hand of the artist seems distinctive enough to provide a basis for future attributions. The handling is assured, but the technique is not completely conventional for a mainstream miniaturist of the last quarter of the seventeenth century: note in particular the use made of the bare vellum and the general reliance on transparency, rather than opacity, in the creation of the light passages. The placing of the figure in the oval, well back in the picture-space as in the following miniatures, seems progressive in relation to miniatures by artists, such as Cross, whose notion of portraiture was formed under the influence of Cooper in the 1660s, and whose sitters usually press up to the picture plane.

Although there can be only a little doubt that EA is Edmund Ashfield, it is curious that he is apparently not documented as one of the artists in the North circle, especially as this group of family portraits implies some degree of intimacy with at least the senior branch of the family. The family painter was Lely, to whom Francis, the eminent jurist and subsequently Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, gave legal advice in exchange for his services, and whose estate, including his collections, was catalogued and wound up by Roger North. Polymathic Roger: a lawyer, musicologist, architect and draughtsman as well as biographer, he is a key exemplar of late seventeenth-century thinking about portraiture and its relation to public and private aspects of the sitter's character and achievements. (1)

Charles, the sitter here, was the eldest of the fourteen children, of whom ten survived infancy, born to Dudley, 4th Baron North, by his wife Anne Montagu (sister of the 1st Earl of Manchester). He was married in April 1667 to Katherine, widow of Sir Edward Moseley, Baronet of Hough in Lancashire and of Rolleston in Staffordshire; she was the daughter ofWilliam, 1st Baron Grey ofWerke. He was summoned to Parliament in 1673 in his own right as Lord Grey de Rolleston. He died in January 1690/1 and his wife married Colonel Francis Russell and died in Barbados in 1695. For a supposed portrait of him see Cooper, Cat. No. 79.

All of his children who survived infancy are represented in the following entries. If there was ever a portrait of the mother, Katherine, it may have gone with her on her marriage to Colonel Russell. After the death of their father, the children became the responsibility of Roger North at Rougham, who also supervised the children of the Lord Keeper when he died in 1 685, and of Dudley (the financier and economist) when he died in 1691.

1 See Richard Wendorf. The Elements of Life Biography and Portrait - Painting in Stuart and Georgian England (Oxford 1990), especially pp. 150-69.”

Exhibition History

Secret faces: an exhibition of Unseen Portrait Miniatures from Public and Private Collections (Philip Mould Ltd. 28/05/2008-14/06/2008)

Materials

Watercolour; Vellum

Techniques

Painting

Subjects depicted

Man; North, Charles (5th Baron North de Kirtling and Baron Grey de Rolleston)

Categories

Portraits; Paintings

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O45612
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