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  • Design Credit: Samantha Todhunter Design Ltd., Photo Credit: Oliver Clarke. Dimensions: H 37 in. x W 32.5 in.
  • Design Credit: Lucy Harris Studio, Photo Credit: Francesco Bertocci. Dimensions: H 37 in. x W 32.5 in.
  • Design Credit: Timothy Godbold, Photo Credit: Karl Simone. Dimensions: H 37 in. x W 32.5 in.
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Philip Mercier
Portrait of Thomas Samwell of Upton

1738

$9,061.70
$18,441.35 50% Off

About

Philip Mercier (1689-1760) Portrait of Thomas Samwell of Upton Signed Ph Mercier pinxit, Ano 1738 lower right Oil on canvas Canvas size 30 x 25 in (76.2 x 63.5 cm) Framed size 37 x 32 1/2 in Provenance The Collection of Lord Hazlerigg; Sale, Sotheby's, The Contents of Noseley Hall, 28th & 29th September 1998, Lot 62; where purchased by the present owner. Literature Walpole Society, Vol 46, 1976/8 - J.Ingamells and R.Raines: A Catalogue of the Paintings, Drawings and Etchings of Philip Mercier, No. 84 Philip Mercier was born in Berlin, the son of a Huguenot tapestry worker of French extraction who worked for the Elector of Brandenburg (later, 1701, King Frederick of Prussia). Little is documented about his early life, but Vertue tells us that he studied under the French portraitist Antoine Pesne (“Monsieur Pené”) and at the Prussian Royal Academy before embarking on a European tour through Italy and France. The visit to France had made a profound impact on Mercier, and his work continued to reflect the influence of such painters as Watteau. His visit to Italy seems to have had little aesthetic influence on his style, and it may be that he went there more as a dealer in paintings than as a student. He arrived in England in 1716, “recommended from the Court at Hanover” where, presumably, he had been working since his return from the Grand Tour. Vertue (op. cit) tells us that he came to England bringing with him a portrait of the nine-year-old Prince Frederick, a picture which is presumably that at St. Davis's School, Ashford. Despite Vertue's assertion that Mercier was made a Page of Honour to the Prince of Wales at Leicester House, there is no documentation surviving of such an appointment, though he lived at 40 Leicester Square from 1720-1727. He seems to have been as much a dealer as a painter at this early period in England, judging by the sale he had of “fine pictures collected abroad” at Mr Cock's auction house in Covent Garden on 21 April 1724. He had by this time married an Englishwoman, Margaret Plante, at St. Martin's in the Fields, where two sons were subsequently baptised. Until 1728, Mercier gives the ineluctable impression that he was endeavouring to establish a profitable niche for himself in the London art scene – a scene which was largely moribund in the last dull attenuated gasps of the late Baroque style of Kneller and his followers. The arrival of Prince Frederick from Germany on 7 December 1728 marked a turning point in his fortunes. Mercier was appointed Principal Painter to the prince on 6 February 1729, with a guarantee of £200 worth of work per annum. He was likewise appointed a Gentleman Page of the Bedchamber at a salary of £80 from 6 March 1729, and Library Keeper at £100 p.a. On 26th January 1730. By March of 1729 Mercier had pleased his patron with full-length portraits of the Prince and his sisters. Mercier seems to have shared a taste for the Theatre with his patron, and both were involved in a production of Hob at Richmond in 1729. Mercier's prosperity from royal patronage was not to last many years: he was quarrelling with Zincke (whom Frederick wanted to make Principal Painter) as early as 1729, and in 1734 he fell out with Van Der Myn over the right to teach the princesses to draw. He certainly had no monopoly over painted portraits of the Prince: by the mid-1730's Van der Myn, Zincke, Amigoni, Enoch Seeman and Charles Philips had all painted oil portraits of him. In 1735, Mercier, now widowed, re-married Dorothy Clapham of St. James's. He was replaced the following year as the Prince's Painter by John Ellys, a painter of very modest talents who had been trained in Kneller's Academy and who was a decade younger than Mercier. Mercier kept his salary as Library Keeper until his final payment in May 1738, when he was replaced by Frederick Ritzau. Having lost a royal income of £380 per annum, Mercier retired to the country – probably to Northamptonshire, to be near his friend and patron Samwell, and Vertue tells us that he considered giving up painting altogether.. After a brief return to London, where it became apparent that he could not compete as a portraitist with the glamorous generation of painters (Van Loo, Ramsay, Hogarth et al) whose careers had burgeoned in the 1730's, he moved north to York, where he settled from October 1739. His move north marked a change of emphasis in his career, as he concentrated less on portraits and more on the painting of “fancy” or genre pictures. His success was immediate and palpable, and he was patronised by many of the leading nobility of the county: he took a “convenient sash'd house with a large garden, coach house and stable” within the Cathedral precincts. He resided in York for 13 years, with occasional tours further afield: to Ireland in 1747 and Scotland in 1750 (from which trip the present paitning may date, given its long and continuous Scots provenance), until he decided to rent out his house 1751, and two sales were held of his domestic effects and 27 of his pictures on 22 August 1751. He then returned to London before travelling to Portugal to painter portraits of the English merchant colony there. Mercier's last decade saw the publication of numerous prints after his work, but essentially taste was changing away from the French Watteau-esque style which he exemplified in England. No portrait is known after 1753, and fewer genre pictures. He lived long enough to exhibit at the inaugural exhibition of the Society of Artists, but his financial situation gradually declined. Soon after his death on 18th July 1760, his wife was constrained to petition for charity to the Society of Arts and the Archbishop of York.

Details

  • Creator
    Philip Mercier (1689 - 1760, French)
  • Creation Year
    1738
  • Dimensions
    Height: 37 in. (93.98 cm)Width: 32.5 in. (82.55 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
  • Gallery Location
    Stoke, GB
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU44639099922

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    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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About the Seller
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