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18th Century English Portrait of a Lady by Tilly Kettle (1735-1786)

"18th Century English Portrait of a Lady by Tilly Kettle (1735-1786)"
Portrait of a lady in a white dress with a red cloak, pearls in her hair and draped over one shoulder, standing beside a classical urn with a basket of flowers, circa 1765.
The portrait is believed to be a companion portrait of a John (1741-1816) or James (1751-1807) Durno which is housed in an identical frame. The sitter is possibly either John's wife who was Janes Byres of Stonywood, or John and James's sister Elizabeth. (James never married). The Durno family were based in the Aberdeen area of Scotland and John was a solicitor in the area and later a customs officer in Jamaica. James was a successful timber merchant, spending time in the Baltic before being appointed Her Majesty's Consul at Memel, Prussia. The portrait was probably painted before Tilly went to India in 1768, when John, Jane and Elizabeth would have been in their twenties.
We thank Mark Beattie for sharing his family knowledge and research on the portrait.

With WC Beattie in the mid-19th century, and by descent in the family
Private collection, Kent

With thanks to Hugh Belsey who confirmed it to be the work of Tilly Kettle from photographs.

Tilly Kettle (1735-1786) was born in London, the third of six children of Henry Kettle (c.1704-c.1773), coach painter, and his wife Ann. He attended William Shipley's drawing school in the Strand and from there perhaps progressed to St Martin's Lane Academy and the Duke of Richmond's Sculpture Gallery. In the early 1750s he was introduced to Joshua Reynolds whom he admired and who greatly influenced his style of portraiture.
He first exhibited at the Free Society of Artists in 1761 and between about 1762 and 1764 he undertook various commissions between Oxford, the Midlands and London. These included the headmaster of Brasenose College, Oxford, Dr Francis Yarborough, the poetess Anna Seward (National Portrait Gallery, London) as well as numerous portraits of the Legge family, commissioned by the second Earl of Dartmouth. He continued to exhibit with the Society of Artists until 1776, when he then began to exhibit with the Royal Academy.
In 1768, he obtained permission from the East India Company to travel to Bengal, India, to work as an artist, becoming the first professional artist to make a career there. Arriving in Madras, among his first commissions was a portrait of Lord Pigot, the former governor of Madras and his clientele consisted of nawabs, merchants and army officers. He also painted a group portrait of Muhammed Ali Khan, Nabob of Arcot, with his five sons, which Kettle exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1771, as well as a full-length portrait of Muhammed. (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).
At the end of 1771 Kettle was in Calcutta where he painted a large double portrait of Charles and John Sealy (Courtauld, London) and Warren Hastings, which Kettle painted at least three times. While in Calcutta, he took a "bibi" or Indian mistress and had two daughters, Ann and Elizabeth. In 1776 he returned to England and married Mary, the youngest daughter of architect James Paine and he had two further children Mary and a son John. He began exhibiting at the Royal Academy, showing works there until 1783. The marriage was not a success and with growing financial difficulties, in 1786 Kettle decided to return to India, reaching until Aleppo where he painted what might have been his last portrait of 'The Turkish Janissary of the English Factory (private collection). It is believed that he died shortly thereafter before the end of 1786 of unknown circumstances.

Literature: James D. Milner, Tilly Kettle, The Walpole Society volume fifteen, 1927, page 47
Price : $20,000
Artist : Tilly Kettle (1735-1786)
Period: 18th century
Style: Georgian
Condition : Good, ready to hang condition

Material : Oil on canvas
Width : 81cm (32in)
Height : 99cm (39in)

Reference : 899
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