George Romney (British, Beckside, Lancashire 1734–1802 Kendal, Cumbria)
Oil on canvas
29 3/4 x 24 3/4 in. (75.6 x 62.9 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1945
Not on view
According to the 1929 Bache Collection catalogue, Martha, “daughter of Benjamin Rigden, a tradesman, of Faversham, Kent, married clandestinely, on March 20, 1773, Charles Frederick, great-great-grandson of Sir John Frederick, a ‘merchant of great opulence,’ and Lord Mayor of London in 1662.” Charles Frederick (1748–1791) resigned from the British army to join the East India Company and departed for India in 1777. After his death there, his wife and their many children returned to England. The Gentleman’s Magazine mentions her death in 1794.
No sittings for a Mrs. Frederick are recorded in Romney’s register. However, Sir Charles Frederick, her father-in-law, seems to have been painted by the artist early in 1776 (location unknown; see T. Humphry Ward and W. Roberts, Romney: A Biographical and Critical Essay, with a Catalogue Raisonné of His Works, London, 1904, vol. 2, p. 58). If the details about the sitter come from the Frederick family, and if she is indeed Martha Rigden Frederick—both of which seem reasonable assumptions—then she most likely sat for Romney between his return from Italy in 1775 and her departure for India in 1777, dates that accord with the style of the work. Her hair and right ear, as well as the costume and background, are loosely finished, without any pretense of detail. Since Romney’s more complex and highly finished small portraits generally required five sittings, the present work may have taken no more than two or three.
[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]
Colonel Charles Frederick (until d. 1791); by descent to Sir Charles Edward Frederick, 7th Baronet (from 1873); [Sulley and Co., London, until 1927; sold to Agnew]; [Agnew, London, 1927; sold for $75,153 to Bache]; Jules S. Bache, New York (1927–d. 1944; Bache Foundation, 1944–45; cats., 1929, unnumbered; 1937, no. 63; 1943, no. 63; sold to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 63.
Bellingham, Wash. Whatcom Museum of History and Art. "5000 Years of Art: An Exhibition from the Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," December 4, 1976–October 2, 1977, no. 59.
San Diego Museum of Art. "5000 Years of Art from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 10–December 6, 1981, no. 46.
Champaign-Urbana. Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois. "5000 Years of Art from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 10–March 7, 1982, no. 46.
Mobile, Ala. Fine Arts Museum of the South. "5000 Years of Art from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," March 30–May 9, 1982, no. 46.
Midland, Mich. Midland Center for the Arts. "5000 Years of Art from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 13–August 25, 1982, no. 46.
Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "5000 Years of Art from the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 19–November 14, 1982, no. 46.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Collection of Jules S. Bache. New York, 1929, unpaginated, ill.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 63, ill.
A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 63, ill.
An American Correspondent. "English Portraits in the Jules Bache Collection." Connoisseur 113 (March 1944), p. 54, ill., as Mrs. Charles Frederick, who married in 1773 and "would appear to have been painted just after Romney's return from Italy in 1775 and before [her] departure for India in 1777".
Barry Maclean-Eltham. George Romney: Paintings in Public Collections. Kendal, England, 1996, p. 29, as painted about 1776.
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 124–25, no. 55, ill. (color).
Alex Kidson. George Romney: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings. New Haven, 2015, vol. 1, p. 229, no. 482, ill. (color), suggests identifying it with the three-quarter portrait recorded by John Romney in his Rough Lists under 1776 as "[Mr/Sir Charles] Frederick," noting that this might be based on an entry in Allwood's frame book of July 23, 1777, for "A 3/4 . . . for Sir Charles Frederick," adding that although John Romney could have assumed this was for a portrait of Frederick himself, Frederick could have been paying for a frame for his daughter-in-law's portrait; states that it appears unfinished and may have been fitted in just before the sitter and her husband left for India, explaining its absence in the sitter books.