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Sutcliffe Galleries announces discovery of a lost painting of the real Lady Mary
The painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1858 where it since disappeared among a family’s private collection.
LONDON.- For the first time since 1858, the missing painting from Jerry Barrett’s ‘Turkish’ period, based on material gathered during his visit to Scutari, will be exhibited at the 2014 BADA Fair. Sutcliffe Galleries discovered this important painting, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in Turkey (herself a fascinating character - see below), last year after it had been miscatalogued at one of London’s leading auction houses twice in 22 years.

The painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1858 where it since disappeared among a family’s private collection. In 1990 the family took Barrett’s painting to an auction house for appraisal, where it was attributed to ‘circle of Horsley’. Due to the low estimate it was given at that time, Barrett’s painting was not offered for sale. The same family subsequently put it up for sale in 2012, where it was given the same attribution.

In the mid-nineties, two other paintings commissioned by Agnews from this same Crimean series were sold to the National Portrait Gallery, but the ‘missing’ painting mentioned in the auction house’s press release remained unrecognised. Last year, Sutcliffe Galleries rediscovered the third painting in its original arched slip, signed twice by the artist’s hand. This year, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in Turkey- the missing part of the trilogy- will be on the market for the first time since 1858.

In addition to the painting’s fascinating rediscovery, the piece itself has its own rich context. Lady Mary was an English Aristocrat and writer, largely remembered for her letters from Turkey where she stayed, as wife to the British ambassador there. Barrett’s inspiration came from the intimate exchange of letters between Lady Mary Wortley and her sister, the Countess of Mar from Adrianople in April 1717.

In her letters she noted that the local practice of deliberately stimulating a mild form of the disease through innoculation conferred immunity. She had the procedure performed on both her children. By the end of the eighteenth century, the English physician Edwardjenner was able to cultivate a serum in cattle, which, when used in human vaccination, eventually led to the worldwide eradication of the illness. [SOURCE: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/montagu-smallpox.asp]

The painting recreates Lady Mary’s vivid description of herself in her Turkish habit: ‘a pair of drawers… of a thin rose-coloured damask. My shoes are of white kid leather, embroidered with gold’. Where Lady Mary describes Turkey’s ‘perpetual spring [which] makes every thing gay and flourishing’, she refers to England’s ‘frosts and snows’. Barrett depicts this implicit contrast between East and the West visually in his juxtaposition of Lady Mary’s flourishing garments with her maid’s much more formal attire. In the 1858 exhibition guide, the Royal Academy described Lady Mary as ‘evidently smitten with her charming appearance.’

There is a striking attention to detail in Barrett’s beautiful painting. He brings to life the intensity of Lady Mary’s description of Eighteenth Century Ottoman women: ‘The head dress, is composed of a cap, called a talpock, which in winter, of fine velvet with pearls or diamonds, and in summer, of a light shining silver stuff.’ The lack of intimacy between Lady Mary and her maids seems to allude to her own physical distance from her sister. The painting is layered with Lady Mary’s relationship to her sister; Barrett’s relationship to the letters as an artist and now our relationship to the painting as viewers of a rediscovered work.

Sutcliffe Galleries will be exhibiting Jerry Barrett’s Lady Mary Wortley Montagu in Turkey for the first time at the BADA Fair, Duke of York Square London SW3, 19 - 25 March 2014. Barrett’s painting is one of many high quality works of art displayed at the internationally acclaimed BADA Antiques & Fine Art fair.





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