Georgiana Augusta Frederica Elliott (1782–1813), Later Lady Charles Bentinck
Sir Joshua Reynolds (British, Plympton 1723–1792 London) and Workshop
Oil on canvas
35 x 30 in. (88.9 x 76.2 cm)
Bequest of Maria DeWitt Jesup, from the collection of her husband, Morris K. Jesup, 1914
Not on view
Georgiana Augusta Frederica was the daughter of Grace Dalrymple Elliott (whose portrait by Gainsborough at the Museum (20.155.1) is exhibited in Gallery 2). The record of her christening names George Augustus Frederick, Prince of Wales (later George IV) as her father, although her father may actually have been the 1st Marquess of Cholmondeley. She was reared in the Cholmondeley family and married William Charles Bentinck (1780–1826), third son of the 3rd Duke of Portland, in 1808, five years before her death at the age of thirty-one. Painted during the sitter's third year in 1784, the portrait is particularly well perserved.
The sitter's christening record lists her parents as the Prince of Wales (later George IV) and Grace Elliott (Graves and Cronin 1901). While it is possible that she was the Prince’s daughter, she was raised in the Cholmondeley family, and her father may instead have been George James Cholmondeley, fourth Earl and later first Marquess. When a child, she was known as Miss Elliott; later she took the name Seymour. She married Lord William Charles Augustus Cavendish-Bentinck, third son of the third Duke of Portland, in 1808, and died five years later at thirty-one. The couple had a daughter, Georgiana Augusta Frederica Bentinck, or Cavendish-Bentinck (1811–1883), who died unmarried.
Miss Elliott is recorded as having sat for Reynolds in March 1784. No other version of the painting is known, and the Museum's picture is presumed to be the one that passed from the second Marquess of Cholmondeley to the sitter's daughter (Graves and Cronin 1901). Nevertheless, several scholars have expressed uncertainty as to its authorship and dating (verbal opinions of Kenneth Garlick, 1960, Malcolm Cormack, 1978, and Robert Wark, 1980, recorded in departmental files).
An x-radiograph of 2009 (see Additional Images, fig. 1) reveals that Reynolds’s original conception showed the sitter wearing a hat with a wide, stiff brim that was tied under the chin and decorated around the crown with large bows. The x-radiograph also reveals indications of what appears to be a cloak, with a slightly narrower contour on the right. The surface of the painting suffered severe damage in an old relining.
Engraved by Joseph Brown in 1858 (ill. in Graves and Cronin 1901).
[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]
?George Horatio Cholmondeley, 2nd Marquess of Cholmondeley; ?the sitter's daughter, Georgiana Augusta Frederica Bentinck, Chester; Morris K. Jesup, New York (by 1901–d. 1908); Maria DeWitt (Mrs. Morris K.) Jesup, New York (1908–d. 1914)
London. Royal Academy. 1785, no. 423 (as "A little girl," lent by Reynolds, possibly this work).
Southampton, N.Y. Parrish Art Museum. "Paintings from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," July 22–August 18, 1954, unnumbered cat.
Tokyo National Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 10–October 1, 1972, no. 87.
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Treasured Masterpieces of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 8–November 26, 1972, no. 87.
Charles Robert Leslie and Tom Taylor. Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds. London, 1865, vol. 2, pp. 468, 473, list Miss Elliott among those who sat for Reynolds in March 1784.
Frederic G. Stephens. English Children as Painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. London, 1884, p. 74, as Lady Charlotte [sic] Bentinck, daughter of Mrs. Grace Dalrymple Elliott, in a cap.
Algernon Graves and William Vine Cronin. A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds P.R.A. Vol. 1, London, 1899, p. 80, describe it as a portrait of Lady Charlotte [sic] (corrected in vol. 4 to Charles) Bentinck.
Walter Armstrong. Sir Joshua Reynolds, First President of the Royal Academy. London, 1900, pp. 140, 194, lists "a little girl" in the 1785 exhibition, identifying it with the portrait Graves and Cronin call Lady Charlotte Bentinck.
Algernon Graves and William Vine Cronin. A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A. Vol. 4, London, 1901, pp. 1407–8, ill. opp. p. 1576 (from the engraving by J. Brown), catalogue it as Georgiana Augusta Frederica Elliott Seymour, Lady Charles Bentinck, a Royal Academy exhibit in 1785 (no. 423, "A little girl"), with biographical data and possible details of provenance.
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "European Paintings in the Jesup Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 10 (May 1915), p. 88, ill. on cover.
Ellis K. Waterhouse. Reynolds. London, 1941, pp. 76, 97, 125 n. 250(b), pl. 250(b), as no. 423 at the 1785 R.A., Miss Seymour, Lady Charles Bentinck.
Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 2, p. 780, no. 2202, ill. p. 781 (cropped).
David Mannings and Martin Postle. Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings (The Subject Pictures catalogued by Martin Postle). New Haven, 2000, vol. 1, p. 507, note the opinions of Graves and Waterhouse, both of whom identify "A little girl," exhibited in 1785, with this portrait of Miss Seymour, but point out that the work is no longer considered to be by Reynolds and that the "Age of Innocence" [no. 2008] may have been the 1785 exhibit.
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 84–86, 102, no. 36, ill. (color), fig. 67 (x-radiograph), attributes it to Reynolds and Workshop; publishes a new x-radiograph showing changes made by the artist in the course of execution.