British School 17th century, attributed to John Greenhill

Portrait of Richard Colman

c.1662

Artists
British School 17th century 1600–1699
Attributed to John Greenhill 1642–1676
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 704 x 590 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Mrs Gilbert Cousland 1996 to celebrate the Tate Gallery Centenary 1997
Reference
T07113

Not on display

Summary

This comes from an interesting group of Colman, Barnardiston, Ranby and other family portraits which were formerly at Brent Eleigh Hall, in Suffolk. The antiquarian Rev. Edmund Farrer viewed the whole group there in 1903, shortly after which they were partially dispersed. This portrait, together with others thought to depict the sitter's kinsman Robert Colman and Robert's wife Dionesse (Tate T07240 and T07241) continued to descend in the Brown family, until they were presented to the Tate Gallery in 1997.

A partly erased inscription identifies the sitter as Richard Colman, and Farrer indicates that it originally continued 'Councell at Law. 1662.' According to his monument in St Mary's Church, Brent Eleigh, Richard was the heir of Sir Edward Colman and his wife Dyonise. He may have resided at Salisbury, where, again according to his monument, he died on 13 October 1672 at the age of forty, although surviving family papers include one document addressed to him at his chamber in Lincoln's Inn in 1670. This Inn of Court, for practising lawyers, is in London.

A further inscription on this portrait reads: '[F]. Vandijks'. This may have been added later to suggest, anachronistically, that it was painted by the celebrated artist to the court of Charles I, Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1643). There was also a Dutch portraitist called Abraham van Dyck (circa 1635-72) who is thought to have worked briefly in England, but Dr Rudi Ekkart of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie confirms that the present portrait is not consistent with his style. Because of the link with the city of Salisbury, it has also been proposed that it might have been painted by the Salisbury-born English artist John Greenhill, but the handling of the paint does not convincingly bear this out.

Presumably originally rectangular, this work, painted on canvas, was cut down to its present oval shape at some time before 1903, possibly to match other oval-framed portraits in the Brent Eleigh collection.

Further Reading
Rev. Edmund Farrer, Portraits in Suffolk Houses (West), London, 1908, p.45, no.7; reproduced facing p.44.
G. Gery Milner-Gibson-Cullum, Genealogical Notes Relating to the Family of Cullum, London, 1928, p.21.

Karen Hearn
November 2000

Technique and condition

The oval support is a medium-coarse, plain woven linen canvas. Cusping at the top edge indicates that the canvas was rectilinear when the priming was applied; faint cusping at the bottom edge indicates that the length has not been altered significantly. There is no cusping at the sides.

The original canvas is glue lined to linen canvas and attached with steel nails to an oval pine stretcher. An earlier tacking edge now forms part of the picture surface at the top edge. The lining is in good condition apart from a very lumpy area at the top left section. There are three curious linear cracks through the top of the head and in the right background; they look like marks from the inner part of an earlier stretcher but are aligned neither with the canvas weave nor the image. The picture's edges are protected with gummed paper tape.

The ground is a warm grey colour and looks as if it is bound in oil. It is slightly gritty in texture, though applied smoothly. The painter has utilised its tone for some of the half-shadows in the face. Adhesion of the ground to the support is good.

The paint looks like plain oil paint. It has suffered a degree of wear in the past. The dark passages, for example his coat, the left background, parts of his hair and the shadows under his chin, have all been abraded and then strengthened with later paint. An inscription in red paint in the lower right section has suffered abrasion. There is also much modern retouching in this area. His right cheek, shin and right side of nose, have strokes and patches of discoloured retouching.

The varnish is slightly yellowed but has an even, sympathetic gloss.

Rica Jones
October 1999

Catalogue entry

British School 17th Century

Portrait of Richard Colman
c.1662
Oil on oval canvas
704 x 590 mm
Inscribed ‘R:d C[ol]ma[n.] [… …] Law. […] [F]. Vandÿks’ lower right
Presented by Mrs Gilbert Cousland to celebrate the Tate Gallery Centenary 1997
T07113

Ownership history
By descent, at Brent Eleigh Hall, Suffolk, in the Colman, Goate and Brown families; presented to Tate in 1997.

References
Rev. Edmund Farrer, Portraits in Suffolk Houses (West), London 1908, p.45, no.7; Tate Report 1996–98, 1998, p.50 (as ‘attributed to John Greenhill’).

This head-and-shoulders image comes from a group of Colman, Barnardiston, Ranby and other family portraits which were formerly at Brent Eleigh Hall, in Suffolk. The antiquarian Rev. Edmund Farrer viewed the whole group there in 1903, shortly after which they were partly dispersed. This portrait, together with others thought to depict the sitter’s kinsman Robert Colman and Robert’s wife Dionesse (Tate T07240 and T07241) continued to descend in the Brown family, until they were presented to Tate in 1997.

With the death of seventy-two-year old Edward Colman in 1739, the direct Colman line died out, to be succeeded at Brent Eleigh by the Goates, and their descendants the Browns, who finally sold the estate in 1922.

A partly erased inscription identifies the sitter as Richard Colman, and Farrer indicates that it originally continued ‘Councell at Law. 1662’. According to his monument in St Mary’s Church, Brent Eleigh, Richard was the heir of Sir Edward Colman and his wife Dyonise. He may have resided at Salisbury, where, again according to his monument,1 he died on 13 October 1672 at the age of forty, although surviving family papers include one document addressed to him at his chamber in Lincoln’s Inn in London in 1670. His wife is thought to have been Anne, daughter of Edward Hyde of Hatch.

A further inscription on this portrait reads: ‘[F]. Vandyks’. This may have been added later to suggest, anachronistically, that it was painted by the celebrated artist at the court of Charles I, Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599–1643). A Dutch portraitist called Abraham van Dyck (1635–1672) is thought also to have worked briefly in England, but Dr Rudi Ekkart of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie confirms that the present portrait is not consistent with his style.2 Because of the sitter’s link with the city of Salisbury, it has also been proposed that it might have been painted by the Salisbury-born English artist John Greenhill, but the handling of the paint does not convincingly bear this out.3

Presumably originally rectangular, this work, painted on canvas, was cut down to its present oval shape at some time before 1903, possibly to match other oval-framed portraits in the Brent Eleigh collection.

Karen Hearn
May 2006

Notes

1 G. Gery Milner-Gibson-Cullum, Genealogical Notes Relating to the Family of Cullum, London 1928, p.21. Richard was buried ‘with general lamentation’ on 29 October 1672.
2 Dr Rudi Ekkart, personal communication with Karen Hearn, 7 October 1997.
3 Richard Jeffree, letter to Mrs Cousland, 18 March 1978.

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