1691 - 1755
Portrait of Ralph William Grey

Oil on canvas, signed ‘BDandridge/ Pinxit’ lower right
Image size: 48 x 39 inches (126.9 x 101.5cm)
Original frame

 

Provenance
By descent through the sitter’s family to
The Collection of R. W. Vivian-Neal of Poundisford Park, Somerset, from whom acquired by
With Lane Fine Art, UK, where purchased by the present owners in 1996

Literature
‘Poundisford Park, Somerset’ in Country Life, 22 December 1934, ill.
A.W. and C.M. Vivian-Neal, Poundisford Park, Somerset: A catalogue of pictures and furniture, Taunton 1939, cat. nos. 11 and 13

This is a three-quarter-length portrait of Ralph William Grey in a mole-coloured velvet coat and a long waistcoat of green satin, heavily embroidered in gold. Under his left right hand is a black chapeau bras. He has white doe-skin gauntlet gloves.

Son of William and Ann Grey of Backworth: born 19 December 1707. He married Mary the daughter of William Rawstorne of Newall in 1741 and died 5 November 1786. He was educated at Eaton and Trinity College, Oxford.

Within a year of his sons’s birth Mrs Grey died and, according to the Country Life article ‘From that time forward all Mr Grey’s faculties were concentrated on the well-being of his son. The possession of an heir gave zest to his efforts to build up the family fortune: he was successful in most of his ventures. Years later his interest in life was centred in the home of his daughter-in-law and grandchildren’.

Grey’s right hand is depicted in the present portrait resting on Locke’s Essays and the Country Life article also records that there are constant references to John Locke in Grey’s notebooks; he is thought to have visited the widow of the philosopher in France when he made his grand tour in 1733. It is thought that the suit shown in the portrait is the one he wore for the Court Ball in May 1736 on the occasion of the marriage of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, at which time Grey was living in Leicester Fields.

The Artist

Bartholomew Dandridge (1691 – c. 1754) was an English portrait painter

He studied at Sir Godfrey Kneller’s academy of painting and later at the St Martin’s Lane Academy (now just a stones throw from Darnley Fine Art). He had a career as a fashionable portrait painter in London for more than forty years, working in a style similar to that of John Vanderbank. In 1732, he was commissioned by Lord Barington to paint a portrait of Frederick, Prince of Wales on horseback.

In 1733, he moved to 55, Great Queen Street, which had formed part of the house of Sir Godfrey Kneller until his death two years before.

He played a part in the development of the conversation piece, making groups of model figures to judge effects of light and shade.

His portraits of the historian Nathaniel Hooke and of Frederick, Prince of Wales are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, as is another painting by Dandridge, believed to be of William Kent.The collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum includes a Portrait of a Painter by Dandridge; this may be the self-portrait he is recorded as having painted in 1729, although the identification of the subject is not certain.