Willem Wissing (Dutch, Amsterdam or The Hague 1656–1687 Stamford)
Oil on canvas
49 3/4 x 40 1/4 in. (126.4 x 102.2 cm)
Bequest of Jacob Ruppert, 1939
Not on view
The sitter has been incorrectly identified as the Countess of Kildare and as Mrs. Knott, both of whom were painted by Wissing; a portrait of the former is in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, and a portrait of the latter is in the Royal Collection. Hermann Williams (1939) found the work similar to a portrait of Mary Musgrave signed and dated 1687 (sold, Christie's, London, December 4, 1925, no. 151).
Wissing was an assistant to Lely until the older artist's death in 1680, but during the last years of his brief career, he had very important aristocratic patrons and ran his own busy studio, devising patterns that he could use repeatedly. The present work, and the portraits of Mrs. Knott and Mrs. Musgrave, together with at least three other pictures (Baetjer 2009), represent variations on one such model.
In 1996 conservator Charlotte Hale treated the painting, removing a discolored, opacified varnish, as well as extensive overpainting from the blue dress, which is abraded. She found that the technique relates to that of two full-length portraits by Wissing and Jan van der Vaart, a drapery painter who worked with Wissing: one of the Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, signed by both artists and dated 1687 (National Portrait Gallery, London), and an undated portrait of Queen Anne (National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh). The blue draperies in all three paintings are similar in their shapes, as are the fall of light, and the type and amount of wear (treatment report in departmental files).
[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]
Inscription: Signed (right): W.Wissing fecit
Sir Gerald William Henry Codrington, 1st Baronet, Dodington Park, Gloucester (until 1923; sale, Christie's, London, July 13, 1923, no. 15, as "Portrait of the Countess of Kildare," for £21 to Collings); [Scott & Fowles, New York, until 1926; their sale, American Art Galleries, New York, November 19, 1926, no. 95, as "Mrs. Knott," for $425 to Ruppert]; Colonel Jacob Ruppert, New York and Garrison, N.Y. (1926–d. 1939)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion," May 3–September 4, 2006, unnumbered cat. (p. 153).
English, Continental & American Paintings of the XVIII–XIX Century. American Art Association, New York. November 19, 1926, unpaginated, no. 95, identifies the sitter as Mrs. Knott by comparison with Wissing's portrait of her at Hampton Court Palace.
Hermann Warner Williams Jr. "The Bequest of Jacob Ruppert." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 34 (July 1939), p. 167, finds it similar to Wissing's portrait of Mary Musgrave, which is signed and dated 1687.
Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 30–32, no. 13, ill. (color).