National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1956
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
17th to 18th Century European Paintings Gallery Level 2, NGV International
Lady Frances Finch was born at Grosvenor Square, London, on 9 February 1761, the daughter of Heanage Finch, 3rd Earl of Aylesford, and Charlotte, daughter of Charles Seymour, Duke of Somerset. At the age of twenty-one, Lady Frances married George Legge, Lord Lewisham, who subsequently became the 3rd Earl of Dartmouth. She died in November 1838 at Blackheath. The background in this portrait may allude to Packington Hall, the Aylesford seat in Warwickshire, which was set in a park landscaped by Capability Brown (1715–1783).
English, 18th century, surface not original
The frame on Reynolds Lady Frances Finch is hand carved and gilded taking the form of pierced and scrolled English Rococo frames from the middle of the eighteenth century.
It is likely the frame pre-dates the painting, though it has not been altered to fit suggesting a standardised relationship between the dimensions of the painting and the frame.
The frame is carved in a soft wood using a layered construction and mitred corners which are cross-splined on the reverse. The form of the frame is effectively all one piece, there is no back frame in the construction, giving a sculptural quality to the carving. The open spaces are hollowed out on the reverse, increasing the delicacy of the pattern. The gilding is on a yellow bole over a white ground.
It is likely to be the original presentation of the painting though to date there is no documentary evidence to that effect.
Reynolds was documented as using the Carlo Maratta frame as a default presentation of his paintings unless a patron requested, or later supplied, a frame of their own choosing.
There are three frames in this form in the collection. This one and those on Gainsborough’s Sea piece (1840-4) and Devis’s Clavey Family (E1-1976).
The painting was cleaned and restored in 2015.