Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Mrs. William Tennant (Mary Wylde, died 1798)

Artist:
Thomas Gainsborough (British, Sudbury 1727–1788 London)
Date:
1780s
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
49 1/2 x 40 in. (125.7 x 101.6 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1945
Accession Number:
45.59.1
Not on view
Mary Wylde was the daughter of the Reverend John Wylde of Belbroughton, Worcestershire, who from 1766 until 1778 was rector of Aldridge in the West Midlands. She married William Tennant of Little Aston Hall and Shenstone, Staffordshire, in 1777. Their only son, William, was born in 1783. Mrs. Tennant died in London in 1798 and is buried at Shenstone.

A companion portrait of the sitter's husband is in the Forbes-Leith Collection, Fyvie Castle. The two works were painted in the mid-1780s, when Tennant was a major in the Staffordshire militia (James Holloway, Treasures of Fyvie, exh. cat., Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 1985, pp. 37, 45, no. 12). The sitters face in the same direction; both are impassive and lack a sense of character.

The condition of the picture is compromised. The surface was flattened in the relining process. An extensive network of drying cracks over much of the surface is less evident in the landscape at the upper left, which is well preserved. The black hat and plume are difficult to read, and there are three old compound tears: through the top of the sitter’s wig; in her sleeve, near the right edge of the canvas; and in the lower right corner.

[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]
Major William Tennant, Little Aston Hall, Staffordshire (until d. 1803); his son, William Tennant, Little Aston Hall (1803–d. 1835); his son, William Tennant, Little Aston Hall (1835–d. 1848); his brother, Captain Charles Edmund Tennant, Needwood House, Staffordshire (1848–d. 1862); his son, Major Charles Richard Tennant, Needwood House and St. Anne's Manor, Sutton Bonnington, Nottinghamshire (from 1862; sold to Wertheimer); [Charles Wertheimer, London, until 1902; sold for £30,000 to Morgan]; J. Pierpont Morgan, London and New York (1902–d. 1913; his estate, 1913–17); his daughter, Mrs. William Pierson (Juliet P. Morgan) Hamilton (from 1917); [Scott & Fowles, New York, until 1928; sold for $60,000 to Bache]; Jules S. Bache, New York (1928–d. 1944; Bache Foundation, 1944–45; cats., 1929, unnumbered; 1937, no. 56; 1943, no. 55; sold to MMA)
London. Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. "Ninth Annual Exhibition," 1903, no. 23 (lent by J. Pierpont Morgan) [see Roberts 1907 and correspondence in archive file].

Manchester. City Art Gallery. "Early British Masters," November 4, 1909–January 1, 1910, no. 33 (lent by J. Pierpont Morgan).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Collection of Paintings lent by J. Pierpont Morgan," 1913, unnumbered cat.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of the J. Pierpont Morgan Collection," February 17, 1914–May 28, 1916, unnumbered cat. (pp. 105–6).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 55.

Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "Five Centuries of European Painting," May 16–October 26, 1963, unnumbered cat. (p. 34).

W[illiam]. Roberts. "Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan's Pictures: The Early English School, II." Connoisseur 16 (November 1906), p. 143, provides a biography of the sitter, dates the portrait about 1786–87, notes that it was purchased privately from a descendant, and mentions a stipple engraving after it by Eugene Tily published in 1904.

W[illiam]. Roberts in Pictures in the Collection of J. Pierpont Morgan at Princes Gate & Dover House, London. Vol. 1, English School. London, 1907, unpaginated, ill. [This is a folio-size catalogue. There is a smaller edition which is exactly the same as this one, except that it includes no illustrations and is published as a single volume.], expands the sitter's biography and compares this portrait to Gainsborough's portrait of the Hon. Mrs. Watson, which was engraved by T. Park in 1788.

B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "A Loan Exhibition of Mr. Morgan's Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 8 (January 1913), p. 12 [reprinted as pamphlet, "Collection of Paintings Lent by J. Pierpont Morgan," at least 7 eds., p. 10].

Guide to the Loan Exhibition of the J. Pierpont Morgan Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1914, pp. 105–6.

Édouard Brandus. "La collection des tableaux anciens de M. Jules S. Bache, à New-York." La Renaissance 11 (May 1928), pp. 181, 184, ill. p. 197.

Walter Heil. "The Jules Bache Collection." Art News 27 (April 27, 1929), p. 4.

A Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of Jules S. Bache. New York, 1929, unpaginated, ill.

August L. Mayer. "Die Sammlung Jules Bache in New-York." Pantheon 6 (December 1930), p. 542.

A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 56, ill.

Harry B. Wehle. "The Bache Collection on Loan." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1 (June 1943), p. 290.

A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 55, ill.

An American Correspondent. "English Portraits in the Jules Bache Collection." Connoisseur 113 (March 1944), p. 52.

E[llis]. K. Waterhouse. "Preliminary Check List of Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough." Walpole Society 33 (1953), p. 104, dates it to the 1780s, as the companion portrait to that of Major William Tennant (d. 1803) belonging to Sir Ian Forbes-Leith at Fyvie Castle.

Ellis Waterhouse. Gainsborough. London, 1958, p. 92, no. 658.

James Holloway. Treasures of Fyvie. Exh. cat., Scottish National Portrait Gallery. [Edinburgh], 1985, p. 45, under no. 12.

Jean Strouse. Morgan: American Financier. New York, 1999, pp. 489–90, as purchased for $150,000 from Charles Wertheimer, London, in the spring of 1902.

Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 108–9, no. 48, ill. (color).



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