portrait of elizabeth cockayne c1670 by mary beale

Portrait of Elizabeth Cockayne c.1670; by Mary Beale.



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Oil on canvas in an 18th century Georgian giltwood frame.
This is a beautiful portrait painted with the insight and sensitivity that typifies the best of Beale's female portraits, coupled here with a pensive sensuality.
The sitter is depicted within a feigned carved stone oval, much used by Sir Peter Lely, and which Beale used so often as to be almost a signature.
A label on the frame identifies the sitter as Elizabeth Cockayne (1609 -1688), the second wife of Thomas, 1st Viscount Fanshawe K.B.
However, this is not possible as the sitter's hair and clothes announce a date of the 1670s.
It is extremely probable that this is another Elizabeth Cockayne (1649-1739), nee Cust, daughter of Sir Richard Cust, 1st Baronet (1622-1700) and Beatrice Pury (1623-1715), who married John Cockayne of Cockayne Hatley, Bedfordshire in 1670 which, after the death of their only son Samuel in 1745, passed successively to cadet members of the Cust family, who incorporated the name Cockayne into their own. They had two children; Elizabeth 'Betty' Cockayne (1674017360 and Samuel (d.1745).
The marriage date also fits well with the date of the painting and it could well have been executed to commemorate that event. Elizabeth wears little jewellery, merely fashionable pearls, which also signify virtue and purity, appropriate for such a portrait.
Her clothing, influenced by Classical Roman fashion, was believed to 'elevate the sitter' and give a timeless classic feel to the image.
The portrait came from the Fanshawe family, but not by ancient descent; it was bought at auction in the 1950s by the previous owner's grandfather.
This confusion of identities when many families used the same first names many times is quite commonplace.
MARY BEALE (1633-1699) was born in Barrow, Suffolk, the daughter of John Cradock, a Puritan rector. Her mother, Dorothy, died when she was 10. Her father was an amateur painter, and member of the Painter-Stainers' Company, and she was acquainted with local artists, such as Nathaniel Thach, Matthew Snelling, Robert Walker and Peter Lely. In 1652, at the age of 18, she married Charles Beale, a cloth merchant from London - also an amateur painter.
She became a semi-professional portrait painter in the 1650s and 1660s, working from her home, first in Covent Garden and later in Fleet Street. Mary Beale was not the only female painter in England, but her name alone has survived as that of the only woman to make a successful living, and to enjoy a flourishing practice as a portraitist.
She became reacquainted with Sir Peter Lely, now Court Artist to Charles II. Her later work is heavily influenced by Lely, being mainly small portraits. He was Beale’s strongest artistic supporter. The friendship between Lely and Mary Beale enabled her, famously, to observe the master in the act of painting – a remarkable privilege – in order to study his technique. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that many of her portraits have been misattributed to Lely or his Studio .She was widely reckoned to be Van Dyck's most accomplished copyist. Her grasp of Lely's colouring is evident, but the pleasant and direct manner in which she treats her sitters is entirely her own.
SIZE: 33 x 29 inches inc. frame.
PROVENANCE: For the last 60 years or so by descent in the Fanshawe family. With the portrait comes an extensive family tree for the Fanshawes, which shows their 17th century relationship to the Cockayne family.
Internal Ref: 9001


Height = 84 cm (33")
Width = 74 cm (29")
Depth = 7 cm (3")

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