Portrait of a Gentleman, Historically Identified as a Member of the Dodding Family
Half length, wearing a black fur-trimmed cloak, white lace collar and cuffs, a black cap and holding a pair of buckskin gloves. Dated 1560 and inscribed with the sitters age, 47.
Oil on panel.
Size68cm high x 53cm wide
This portrait formed a part of the collection of Conishead Priory, formerly an Augustinian Priory founded in 1160 by Gamelde Pennington, near Ulverston in Cumbria. Edward II settled a bitter dispute between the Priory and Furness Abbey in 1338 by bestowing a Royal Charter upon Conishead but the Priory was seized by the Crown in 1537 under the Act of Suppression. Ownership passed subsequently through the families of Lord Mounteagle, Paget and Machell before William Sandys of Colton Hall acquired it in 1548. As 'Receiver General of Furness', Sandys fell victim to the antagonism towards the crown in the region and 1558 he was 'very riotously and murdered at Conishead'. The estate then passed to the Phillipsons and not long after to the Dodding family. In 1638, Sarah Dodding married John Braddyll of Portfield thus conveying Conishead to the Bradylls who made it their seat for almost two centuries.
Prior to restoration, the portrait had a later added inscription (now removed), recording it as 'AN DNI/1560/AETA SVE/47', and with the coat-of-arms of the Dodding family1, and an attribution to 'SIR A. MORE'. Such an addition to the painting was not an unusual practise in the 18th and 19th Centuries, and presumably was intended to cement family history within its own collection. The identification to the Dodding family is, however, incorrect. A clue to the sitter's identity could, instead, be found in his ring, which shows arms 'beblazoned' as Or six Fleurs de Lys Sable. This coat of arms appears in several 15th and 16th Coat of Arms manuscripts for the name Mortimer, and it is not a name obviously associated with the key families of Conishead Priory2.
Conishead Priory, presumably by descent in the family of the sitter to Captain L. W. Neeld, Kelston Park, near Bath;
his deceased sale, Christie's, London, 2 May 1958, lot 70;
and by descent in the family until 2011.
1 Azure in Chief two Estoiles & in base acrescent.
2 Blazons for the main families at Conishead are as follows: Paget — a cross engrailed between 4 eagles 5 lions; Sandys — a Fess dancetty between three Cross crosslets fitchy; Phillipson — Gules between three boars or bats' heads; Bradyll — Argent a Cross Vert overall a bend compony; Dodding — Azure in Chief two Estoiles & in base acrescent; Machel — Sable three Greyhounds; Pennington — Or fusils in fess; and Stanley, Earls of Mounteagle — On a Bend three Bucks Heads caboshed.