Spot the difference

Kings Weston House is still host to an incredible collection of family portraits of the Southwell family who lived there between 1679 and 1833. But their likenesses can be found elsewhere too. A recent trip to Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, uncovered a little sister portrait to the vast canvas by Sir Godfrey Kneller in the Saloon at Kings Weston. The paintings depict Lady Elizabeth Cromwell, wife of Edward Southwell who rebuilt Kings Weston.

The two paintings are shown together here, probably for the first time since they were painted, and the similarities are striking. The Kings Weston Painting is signed by the artist Kneller, but the other, held in the County Down Museum, is not. The latter is likely to have been made as a copy at some point in time though it’s history has not yet been unravelled.
The same museum also has a matching painting of Edward Southwell, identical in detail of the one of him hanging at Kings Weston, but the pose is reversed! This probably shows that it was copied from a contemporary engraving, rather than directly from the original as his wife’s may have been.

An article about the Downpatrick paintings is available to download, though sadly the author appears to have been unaware of the Kings Weston paintings when they were writing it. http://www.kwag.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Downpatrick-museum-paintings-reduced2.pdf

 

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