Fine Art Highlights

Fine Art Highlights

London | April 2021

Our April 2021 exhibition at The Mall Galleries in London will include fine art highlights of both Five Centuries: Furniture, Paintings & Works of Art and Property of The Earls of Breadalbane & Holland auctions to be held mid-May. This curated section of works from important private collections will feature works by Dutch Old Masters Jan Josefsz Van Goyen and Cornelis Droochsloot; an historic portrait by Thomas Gainsborough and a rare 14th century French Gothic ivory composite casket.

27-30 APRIL 2021









Inscribed 'John Lord Glenorchy / Ano. 1762 married Ano. 1761 / Willielma Maxwell daughter / & Co-heiress of Willm. Maxwell / of Preston in the Stewartry / of Kirkcudbright Esqr.,' oil on canvas
127cm x 101.6cm (50in x 40in)
£80,000-120,000 + fees


Commissioned by the sitter’s father, John Campbell, 3rd Earl of Breadalbane (died 1782); inherited by his distant kinsman, John, 4th Earl and 1st Marquess of Breadalbane, FRS. (1762-1834), Taymouth Castle, Perthshire; by descent to John, 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane KT, FRS, PSA, PBA (1796–1862); inherited by his elder sister, Lady Elizabeth Campbell (1794–1878), who in 1831 married as his second wife, Sir John Pringle, 5th Bt, Langton House, Duns; passed to her daughter, Mary (died 1911), who in 1861 married Major The Hon. Robert Baillie-Hamilton; passed to her sister, Magdalen (died 1913), who married in 1874 as her second husband Sir Robert Bateson Hervey, 1st Bt; inherited by her godson and first cousin twice removed, Lt Col. The Hon. Thomas Morgan-Grenville-Gavin (1891–1965), grandfather of the present owner.


Hugh Belsey, Thomas Gainsborough: The Portraits, Fancy Pictures and Copies after Old Masters, New Haven and London 2019, vol. I, pp. 396–97, no. 400, repr. col.




The canvas is paired with a portrait of the sitter’s wife by Katherine Read.

This painting was recorded in Christie Manson & Woods 1853 Inventory of Taymouth Castle as hanging in the Breakfast Room.

This recently identified portrait by Gainsborough is unusual. It is one of the few portraits dated by a receipt and the pendant portrait of his wife, is painted by another artist.

Gainsborough’s portraits were famed for their likeness and in this particular portrait John, Lord Glenorchy, the heir of the Earl of Breadalbane, is shown as a slight, sickly figure. His elder brother, George, had died at the age of twelve in 1744 and tragically, in November 1771, Breadalbane’s second son, John, was to predecease him at the age of 33. In September 1761 John had married Wilhelmina Maxwell who later in life was to establish a number of dissenting chapels in Scotland and in south-west England.

According to the Bath newspapers Lord and Lady Glenorchy travelled to Bath—no doubt to take the waters—in April 1762 and five months later Lord Glenorchy returned to the City without his wife. It must have been at the time of this second visit that Breadalbane commissioned Gainsborough to paint his son’s portrait. According to the Glenorchys’ friend Lord Royston, who was to sit to Gainsborough in May, the couple arrived in Bath on 9 April 1763, no doubt anxious to see the completed portrait. Breadalbane’s payment of £21.7s is recorded in a receipt dated 13 April 1763. It was customary for artists to be paid half the fee when the portrait was commissioned and the final payment was made once the portrait was finished. The receipt accords with the artist’s standard charge of £42 for a half-length portrait and the additional charge of 7s covered the cost of a packing case. Curiously, at the time Lord Glenorchy was sitting to Gainsborough in Bath, in London his wife was sitting for a pendant portrait by the Scottish painter and pastellist Katherine Read. A receipt for this canvas dated 22 April 1763 records the larger payment of £24.4s for the portrait which is presently lent to Dundee Museum and Art Gallery. There are very few instances of pendant portraits being commissioned from different artists. The portrait presently offered by Lyon & Turnbull was not the Glenorchys only connection with Gainsborough. In 1766, again for health reasons, Lady Glenorchy returned to Bath and sat to Gainsborough for a head-and-shoulders portrait in which she wears an elaborate brocaded green silk robe à la française. This portrait is now in a British private collection. No doubt seeking warmer climes again to improve their fragile health, later that year the couple travelled to the Continent arriving in Rome in November where they stayed until the summer of 1767.

From June 1760 Gainsborough rented a house belonging to the Duke of Kingston that faced the west end of Bath Abbey. This prime location served him well and he quickly became an established part of the community. His ‘shew’ room, filled with portraits both completed and half finished, became one of the sights of the city; an added attraction for the ever-changing stream of tourists. Over the next three years Gainsborough received so many commissions that he suffered a serious breakdown in his health during the autumn of 1763 and his condition was considered grave enough for his death to be announced in the local newspapers. He had worked extraordinarily hard during the previous three years, developing his style from the provincial charm of his Suffolk portraits and by combining his innate draughtsmanship and honing his perfect colour harmonies he achieved his ambition to become an artist of national significance. His popularity grew exponentially and his appointments book, that must have included dates for Glenorchy’s and Royston’s sittings, was overflowing.

Glenorchy wears clothes that are the height of fashion. His aile-de-pigeon bag-wig is set off by a fine worsted green suit with gold-covered buttons and gold-thread embroidery worked in a scroll design along the garment edges that is repeated on the cuffs and pocket flaps. The green suit is offset by a generous swag of red drapery in the background and, on the right, the appropriate grandeur of the sitter’s surroundings is suggested by a large column base. The portrait was recently cleaned to great effect and it shows the extraordinary dexterity in the artist’s handling of paint. Details such as the lace cuffs and the gloved right hand perfectly represent the comparative textures of linen and kidskin and demonstrate a relaxed fluency and confidence that is rare in any artist’s work. Compositionally the portrait is very close to another recently discovered portrait of James Edward Colleton (Belsey 199). With subtleties of stance and expression Gainsborough shows the divergent characters of the two sitters. Colleton, standing in a domestic interior, arrogantly confronts the beholder; his right arm held akimbo suggests the nervous irritation of being disturbed from reading a book. Glenorchy is more relaxed. His right hand is tucked into his waistcoat pocket and his gloved left hand rests on the hilt of a ceremonial sword. In contrast he has an expression of unruffled aristocratic sensibility.

We are grateful to Hugh Belsey for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot and his extensive background notes



Signed with a monogram and dated 1630, oil on panel
44.5cm x 31cm (17.5in x 12.25in)
£30,000 - 50,000 + fees

John, 4th Earl & 1st Marquess of Breadalbane, FRS. (1762-1834)
For the collection at Taymouth Castle, Perthshire,
John, 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane KT. FRS. PSA. PBA. (1796 -1862),
His elder sister, Lady Elizabeth Pringle (1794-1878) Langton House, Duns, Her daughter, The Hon. Mrs Robert Baillie-Hamilton, died 1912,
Her sister, Lady Hervey, died 1913, godmother & first cousin twice removed of, Lt. Col. The Hon. Thomas Morgan-Grenville-Gavin (1891-1965) Grandfather of the present owner.


This painting was recorded in Christie Manson & Woods 1853 Inventory of Taymouth Castle as hanging in the Drawing Room.










Indistinctly signed, oil on panel, and a pair by the same hand 'Children playing in a riverside town' (2)
38.5cm x 34cm (15.25in x 13.25in)
£30,000 - 50,000 + fees





John, 4th Earl & 1st Marquess of Breadalbane, FRS. (1762-1834)
For the collection at Taymouth Castle, Perthshire,
John, 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane KT. FRS. PSA. PBA. (1796 -1862),
His elder sister, Lady Elizabeth Pringle (1794-1878) Langton House, Duns, Her daughter, The Hon. Mrs Robert Baillie-Hamilton, died 1912,
Her sister, Lady Hervey, died 1913, godmother & first cousin twice removed of, Lt. Col. The Hon. Thomas Morgan-Grenville-Gavin (1891-1965) Grandfather of the present owner


These paintings are recorded in Christie's Manson & Woods 1853 Inventory of Taymouth Castle as hanging in Bedroom No.8












Signed and dated '98, oil on canvas
76cm x 61cm (30in x 24in)
£100,000 - 150,000 + fees


James Connell & Sons, 31 Renfield Street, Glasgow (label on verso);

Lefebvre and Reid;

The Late Dr Helen E C Cargill Thompson


The model is Miss Ethel Warwick who was sixteen when she posed for this picture.

We are grateful to Dr Vern G Swanson for his assistance in cataloguing this entry. It is no.7 in his catalogue raisonne which he has updated.





The details of Godward’s personal life are relatively vague. His choice to peruse a career as a painter went against his family wishes and this disapproval was compounded when he left England for Italy with one of his models. It is believed that at this point he became estranged from his relations to such an extent that they removed his likeness from family pictures. He remained in Italy for almost a decade, only returning home in 1921. In 1922 he died by suicide, with notes left by him indicating that he was struggling with his place in an artistic world that was now largely interested in the modern and contemporary. The circumstances of his death were considered a source of great shame to his family and so they destroyed much of his archive and papers; it is believed there remains only one photograph of the artist.

 There was drama and sadness in his personal life but this never spilled over into Godward’s painting. A loyal follower of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and similarly inspired by classical civilization, particularly Ancient Rome, his works depict elegant women in classical dress, lounging against architectural features. His paintings are characterised by exquisite and meticulous detail. There had been a widespread taste for this style of painting and subject matter in-line with a wider cultural interest in classical study and so to be successful in this style of painting required a high level of accuracy and precision; Godward carefully researched architecture and dress to make sure every detail in his painting was right.

 He often exhibited at the Royal Academy and as the eminent scholar on Godward’s work, Dr Vern G. Swanson, indicates; he “quickly established a reputation for his paintings of young women in a classical setting and his ability to convey with sensitivity and technical mastery the feel of contrasting textures, flesh, marble, fur and fabrics.” This is evident in the offered work, where Godward beautifully renders the cool, smooth marble framing the figure in marked contrast to the soft fabric folds of her gown while behind her a verdant expanse of overlapping lavender and red poppies unfold before further architectural columns and sculpture appear. The scene is a vision of sumptuousness and beauty, meticulous depicted by a talented hand.

The young model featured is Miss Ethel Maud Warwick. A film and stage actress, she initially attended art school, using work as an artist’s model to fund her studies. She first posed for Herbert Draper but in time was sketched by Whistler and featured in a series of photographs by Linley Sambourne. Her expressive face was particularly appealing to Godward so she became a favoured model, appearing in a number of his works.

 Godward’s approach has been referred to as that of a ‘High Victorian Dreamer.’ Technically, he can be considered a Victorian Neo-classicist, though at times his strong colour and posed subject have seen him be grouped with the Pre-Raphaelites, despite a differing inspiration source. Within his lifetime, this approach fell out of fashion and though Godward remained committed to the art he loved, he did struggle to find his place as taste moved away from his work. Fortunately, his mastery of his craft and the enduring human interest in the beautiful and sumptuous means favour has returned to his work since his death. Fashions evolve but quality and harmony endure and this exquisite work is rich in both.




CIRCA 1330
the panels intricately carved in bas-relief to include scenes from the Medieval tales Queste del Saint Grail and Tristan & Isolde, with later brass brackets, straps and handle
25cm wide, 11cm high, 13cm deep
£30,000 - 50,000 + fees

Property from Tornaveen House, Aberdeenshire






Currently only eight other complete secular ivory coffrets like the present one are known, so-called composite caskets, most of them in important museum collections around the world. With all panels intricately carved in bas-relief, the high quality of the workmanship is immediately visible, while a closer look reveals the richness of the motifs. It gives us a beautiful insight into the medieval fascination with the concept of courtly love.

The present example likely originated in a workshop in Paris around 1330, due to the similarities with the existing ones. The exact meaning behind the iconological programs of these caskets has long been a subject for discussion between scholars.

One thing the panels on all these caskets have in common is the link to medieval courtly literature, tales of love usually between knights and noble ladies emphasising nobility and chivalry, popular in Europe since around the time of the First Crusade in 1099. On this coffret, the two main tales the panels relate to are most likely Tristan and Isolde, and the Queste del saint grail.

The two panels on the right side probably refer to the famous medieval romance, Tristan and Isolde. This tale, based on a Celtic legend, centres around the young knight Tristan, who travels to Ireland to ask for the hand of princess Isolde on behalf of his uncle King Mark of Cornwall. After slaying a dragon there, the princess agrees to marry King Mark. On the journey back Tristan and Isolde drink the love potion prepared by the queen for her daughter and King Mark and fall for each other. The main part of the romance is focussed on King Mark trying to prove their secret love affair and punishing them.

Although this legend has been retold many times, one of the most popular ones is the version by Béroul, a Norman or Breton poet of the 12th century. According to his account, King Mark asks King Arthur to try his wife Isolde at court for her unfaithfulness. To have Isolde exonerated from the charges, she and Tristan concoct a clever ruse. Tristan disguises himself convincingly as a poor leper, begging for alms on the banks of the river Malpas. When the royal party arrives, he carries her across the river, so Isolde can truthfully swear in front of the court that “no man ever came between my thighs except the leper who carried me on his back across the ford and my husband, King Mark”. This oath was seemingly so convincing, that everyone hearing it applauded it, and King Arthur made Mark promise to never slander her again.

The front left panel shows Tristan carrying Isolde across the river, her headdress clearly indicating she is a married woman. After Isolde is safe, Tristan dresses up as the Black Knight and joins the jousting, a scene represented on the left end panel of the casket.

The carvings on the front right and right end panel allude to another preeminent story, the Queste del saint grail, the story of the fabled Holy Grail, part of the Arthurian Legend. It begins at King Arthur’s court with a gathering of the well-known Knights of the Round Table. Just before dinner a sword in a stone appears miraculously floating in the river below the castle. Lancelot’s claims that whoever tries to remove the weapon will be gravely wounded does not deter his companions eager for adventure. Only the recently arrived Galahad can withdraw the sword, which he uses to achieve the quest for the grail.

The carving next to the lock on the right of a man presenting his arm with severed hand to a king and queen probably relates to this, he having failed to retrieve the sword and receiving this grisly injury in trying so. The sword over the altar on the right end panel possibly refers to the divine and miraculous nature of the weapon Galahad obtained. The scene on the right end could either show the appearance of the grail just after Arthur, Galahad, and the knights of the Round Table sit down to eat, or when Galahad and his companions finally encounter the grail at the end of the story, or a conflation of the two. That the figure in the middle of the right end panel lacks a crown suggests that he is Galahad and not Arthur. The lions shown on the lid support this identification, as the grail castle was guarded by lions and surrounded by water.

The wild men presented in intricate detail fighting to conquer a castle on the lid, and again defeated and in chains on the back panel, are a very popular motif in medieval imagery, ubiquitously represented in art of the highest quality from the early 14th century and continuing well into the sixteenth century . Wild men represented the opposite of accepted standards of society, subliminally implying chaos, insanity and ungodliness. Especially in the 14th century the wild men seem to take on an erotic role, seen storming the Castle of Love in several artworks, one of the most common allegorical scenes in which the winning of a lady’s heart is depicted as the siege of a castle . The carving on this coffret actually is reminiscent of the so-called Academy Casket (see image 1), now lost.

Unusual on this panel is the wild man wearing a crown. There are some wild men wearing crowns in 15th century German tapestries (image 2), but we don’t have an explanation why the carver added one in this case.

The overall iconography of this casket seems to confirm the general notion that they were made as courting or wedding gifts for noble ladies, personalised to the commissioner’s preferences, as all the panels include notions of love and chivalry, to perhaps represent wishes for the future relationship especially important to the suitor. These very personal meanings have been lost to time, yet make this coffret extraordinarily intriguing.

Another element making this casket so significant is the impeccable provenance. We can trace it all the way back to the beginning of the 17th century, as it is mentioned in the family genealogy of the Baird family of Auchmedden in relation to Thomas Baird . According to this text, he became a friar of a monastery in Besançon, Burgundy, in 1615. Letters from his uncle Andrew, who was staying close by in France, to his father Gilbert mention him to be hard of learning and ‘incapable of any of the sciences’. His saving grace was said to being excellent at mechanics, having made ‘an oblong, small chest of ivory 10 inches long, 5 broad, and 4 high, delicately carved in bas-relief, with the chisel, upon the top and sides into figures of knight-errants, distrest [sic] damsels, and enchanted castles, taken from some of the old romances which were so much in vogue in that age’.

None of the letters later on in the genealogy indicate as to why the author thinks the casket was made by Thomas Baird, and not just sent over to his family as a gift. We don’t know if it was Thomas himself trying to make up for his shortcomings as a scholar by telling his family he was the talented maker, or if this is down to family lore evolving over the centuries. The casket would have already been nearly 300 years old at the time of Thomas’ acquisition.

A footnote in the genealogy places the casket in the editor W. N. Fraser’s possession in 1870, which gives us the firm link to the present-day vendors, who are descendents by marriage of the Baird family.

We are very grateful to Paula Mae Carns and Sarah Guerin for their help cataloguing this item.

1 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 17.190.173, 1988, 16; British Museum, London, Dalton 386; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 146.1866; Walters Museum, Baltimore, 71.264; Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham; Bargello, Florence, 123 c.; Cathedral Treasury, Krakow; Winnipeg Art Gallery
2 Thanks to Paula Mae Carns for identifying the various iconography
3 Timothy Husband, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gloria Gilmore-House, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980, p. 4
4 Timothy Husband, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gloria Gilmore-House, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980, p. 73
5 The location of all panels from this dismantled casket is unknown, apart from the back panel which is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (2003.131.2). This casket is known from an eighteenth- century engraving (see Lévesque de Ravalière).
6 Genealogical collections concerning the sir-name of Baird, and the families of Auchmedden, Newbyth, and Sauchton Hall in particular : with copies of old letters and papers worth preserving, and account of several transactions in this country during the last two centuries: Baird, William, 1700 or 1701-1777, edited by W. N. F. Fraser, London 1870, page 21
7 We don’t have the exact dates for Thomas Baird, but we do know he is the third son of Gilbert Baird (1551-1620), and he resided in France from at least 1609.



Feature Auctions



18 MAY 2021


19-20 MAY 2021


Highlights Viewing by Appointment | 27-30 April | Mall Galleries, London 
Full Viewing by Appointment | 15-18 May | 33 Broughton Place, Edinburgh
Nick Curnow | 0207 930 9115 | 


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