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(Attributed to) Edward Byng
PORTRAIT of a Young Girl in Roman Dress c.1695, Antique Oil Painting EDWARD BYNG

circa 1695



Portrait of a young girl in Roman costume c.1695, Antique Oil Painting Attributed to Edward Byng (c.1676-1753) This charming portrait depicts a young girl dressed in "picturesque" or "Roman" dress and gesturing toward a gentleman leading a horse. At the end of the century there was a fashion for showing sitters in a semi-fancy dress, begun in England by van Dyck in the 1630s. During the seventeenth century an increasing concern was expressed by writer on art about the most suitable forms of costume to be worn in portraiture. It was felt that the rapid changes of fashion made contemporary dress unsuitable. However attractive a portrait might appear with a sitter wearing the height of fashion, within a decade the clothes would be out of date and that would make the picture itself seem dated. It was thought therefore that some form of unchanging attire had to be created to overcome this issue. As a result, two forms of unchanging dress were created. Firstly, there was the pastoral mode which evolved mainly in the Netherlands in the 1620’s and lasted for about 50 years. This arcadian dress was thought to be free of the whimsical nature of changing fashions. Secondly there was the Roman dress which became established about 1650. The girl in our portrait has been depicted with pteruges on her upper arms and hanging from her waist; in Roman dress these were strips or lappets of leather or multi-layered fabric (linen) that acted as a defence for the upper parts of the limbs, hips, and thighs). This dress imbues the sitter with a Roman warrior-like or gladiator impression. A third type is a type often used by Van Dyke and Peter Lely which was known as “undress” and was a relaxed, effortless, and careless, and even restlessness, style. This is a beautiful example of Byng's talent for child portraiture and is a wonderful demonstration of how the rhetoric of dress operated and how costume was carefully chosen to suit the ideals of a particular culture or individual sitter. Held in a gilded antique frame in excellent condition. Edward Byng is thought to be a native of Wiltshire. His brother Robert was also a painter and many works have been jointly attributed to both brothers. Edward trained as an artist and began working in the studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller as a general assistant and then drapery painter. By 1723, he was Kneller’s principal studio assistant and lived with him at Kneller’s house in Great Queen Street. Kneller obviously rated his talents for he charged him the task in his will of completing many of his unfinished portraits (around 500 pictures), for which he would receive the sums due, bequeathed him many of his drawings, and left him an annuity of £100. Kneller recorded in his will of Byng "for many years faithfully served me". Provenance: From a Hertfordshire (UK) country house Measurements: Height 86cm, Width 73cm framed (Height 33.75”, Width 28.5” framed)


  • Creator
    (Attributed to) Edward Byng (1676 - 1753)
  • Creation Year
    circa 1695
  • Dimensions
    Height: 33.86 in. (86 cm)Width: 28.75 in. (73 cm)Depth: 1.97 in. (5 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
    In very good condition having passed a quality check by our conservators. No work is required and can be hung and enjoyed immediately.
  • Gallery Location
    London, GB
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU119916802132

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    Estimated Customs Duties & Taxes to the Continental US: $0.
    Ships From: London, United Kingdom
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 2 days of delivery.

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