Sale 21CN05 | Lot 13

Nathaniel Dance (also known as Nathaniel Dance-Holland)

Catalogue: Old Master Paintings and Silver
Nathaniel Dance (also known as Nathaniel Dance-Holland)

Lot Details

Lot 13
Nathaniel Dance (also known as Nathaniel Dance-Holland)
English, 1748-1827
Portrait of a Naval Officer thought to be Admiral Sir Peter Denis (ca. 1713-1778)
Oil on canvas
30 x 25 inches (76.2 x 63.5 cm)
Provenance:
The Marquess of Lansdowne Collection
[Sale] Christie's London, March 7, 1930, lot 39 (£136-10s.)
Purchased at the above sale by "Buttery," a dealer
Howard Young Galleries, New York
Purchased from the above on March 31, 1931 by William N. Davey, New York
By inheritance to Cleatus Keating, New York
By inheritance to the present owner
Literature:
A detail of this portrait was reproduced in Vice Admiral Boyle Somerville's Commodore Anson's Voyage into the South Seas and around the World (London, 1934), p. 33
This painting, formerly owned by the Marquess of Lansdowne, bears a very old label on the back identifying the sitter as Admiral Sir Peter Denis, and it was sold as such from the Lansdowne collection at Christie's in 1930. It is one of five known versions. Another in the National Maritime Museum (NMM) at Greenwich, England, was acquired as a portrait of an unknown captain in 1935 and identified as Denis from the present one. The NMM also has a record photograph of a third version, which appeared in Glasgow, already also identified as as portrait of Admiral Denis, in 1958. At some point between 1965 and 1968, two versions were reported to the NMM, one in the possession of Lord Crawford and the other with the Duke of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle. These two, however, were identified as portraits of Captain Sir Basil Keith, who died in 1777 but whose birth date was then unknown. In about 1968 the NMM also received advice from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, but for which the basis is no longer clear, that the sitter was probably Captain Keith and subsequently retitled its version accordingly (as it currently remains). Unfortunately no other portraits of Denis or Keith are yet known to make comparisons and, whoever the sitter, which of the painting versions is the original is also so far unclear. Not even photographs of the Crawford and Northumberland versions have yet been seen and the Glasgow portrait (needing attention in 1958) remains to be relocated.
The present example, with the NMM and Glasgow versions (and reportedly the other two) all show the sitter in the 1767-1774 uniform of a Royal Naval captain. While the original source of the information is as yet also unknown, Keith is now reported to have been born in circa 1734. If so, he would have worn the uniform between the ages of about 33 and 40, but Denis (b.1713) would have worn it when he was 54 to 57. Simply on the sitter's apparent age, therefore, the identification as Denis appears to be the more likely. More work needs to be done, including to explain how Keith was introduced as an alternative.
We would like to thank Dr. Pieter van der Merwe, Curator Emeritus at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England for his invaluable assistance in cataloguing this work.


Estimate: $4,000 - $7,000
Sold for $10,710 (includes buyer's premium)

Additional Notes & Condition Report

Glue relined. Some contours and shadows reinforced. A few scattered touches of restoration elsewhere.


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Estimate: $4,000 - $7,000
Sold for $10,710 (includes buyer's premium)

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Catalogue Info

Old Master Paintings and Silver

Wed, Nov 10, 2021 at 10am EST
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