Mrs Frances Gunnel c1835 Attributed to Sir George  Hayter

Mrs Frances Gunnel c1835 Attributed to Sir George  Hayter

Mrs Frances Gunnell (1789-1866). Attributed to Sir George Hayter (1792 – 1871 Lived / worked London & Florence)

UK c 1835. Oil on canvas.Original water-gilt ‘Florentine’ frame. Born Frances Alington, eldest daughter of Rev.d Wm Alington. Married 1841 Richard Pickering Gunnell.

A very fine 1830s portrait, in excellent original condition. Frances and Richard lived in a Gothic house with a lovely garden and were patrons of the Woodford community. She grew up in the new Manor House at Graveley, Hertfordshire and died at her residence, 31 Oxford Square, Hyde Park, London.

Sir George Hayter was a leading early Victorian portrait artist, and this is absolutely typical of the flourish of his work and studio, typically framed in a magnificent gilt ‘Grand Tour’ Florentine frame in untouched condition.

Price inc GST $6,500

Sir George Hayter (17 December 1792 – 18 January 1871) was an English painter, specialising in portraits and large works involving in some cases several hundred individual portraits. Queen Victoria appreciated his merits and appointed Hayter her Principal Painter in Ordinary and also awarded him a Knighthood 1841.

Initially tutored by his father, he went to the Royal Academy Schools early in 1808.Encouraged by his patron, John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, he travelled to Italy to study in 1816. There he met Canova, whose studio he attended while painting his portrait, where he absorbed Canova’s classical style. He is also believed to have learned sculpture from Canova at this time. Canova was Perpetual Principal of the Accademia di San Luca (Rome’s premier artistic institution) and doubtless put Hayter forward for honorary membership,  Hayter thereby became the Academy’s youngest ever member.

In 1826 Hayter settled in Italy. The Banditti of Kurdistan Assisting Georgians in Carrying off Circassian Women (untraced), completed in Florence for John Proby, 1st Earl of Carysfort (exhibited British Institution 1829), demonstrated Hayter’s assimilation of the style and exotic subject-matter of contemporary French Romantic art.

In 1827 his mistress, Louisa Cauty, died after poisoning herself with arsenic. Although it was apparently an accident, in a bid for attention, it was widely assumed that he had driven her to suicide, and he was forced by the scandal to move from Florence to Rome.

By late 1828 he was in Paris, where his portraits of English society members (some exhibited at the Salon in 1831).

In 1831 Hayter returned to England. His grandiose plan to paint the first sitting after the passage of the Reform Bill resulted in his painting Moving the Address to the Crown on the Opening of the First Reformed Parliament in the Old House of Commons, 5 February 1833 (1833–1843; London, N.P.G.), for which he executed nearly 400 portrait studies in oil. Hayter was an ardent supporter of the reform movement and this painting was not commissioned but to all intents and purposes a labour of love. It occupied him for ten years with no guarantee of financial reward. This is one of the last images executed of the interior of the old House of Commons before its destruction in the fire of 1834. The painting was finally purchased by the government for the nation in 1854, 20 years after it was started.

Having painted the young Princess Victoria (1832–3; destr.; oil sketch, Brit. Royal Col.), Hayter was not a surprising choice as the new Queen’s ‘Portrait and Historical Painter’. But on the death of Sir David Wilkie in 1841 Hayter’s appointment as Principal Painter in Ordinary to the Queen caused some annoyance at the Royal Academy as this appointment had historically been the preserve of the President, then Sir Martin Archer Shee.[6][7] In 1842 Hayter was knighted. He painted several royal ceremonies including Queen Victoria’s coronation of 1838 and marriage of 1840 and also the Christening of the Prince of Wales of 1843 (all Brit. Royal Col.). He also painted several royal portraits including his most well-known work the State Portrait of the new Queen Victoria. Several versions of this portrait were done, with the assistance of the artist’s son Angelo, to be sent as diplomatic gifts. Hayter’s active period at court was short-lived.

Several significant examples of Hayter’s works from this period remain a part of the Royal Collection. His Florentine portraits were  typically framed in superb Florentine carved & gilt frames, as this example. He died in London in 1871.