portraits of the leggat family of yorkshire c1780 provincial artist william routh

Portraits of the Leggat Family of Yorkshire, c.1780; Provincial Artist. (William Routh)



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Three oils on canvas of the Leggat family, in carved and gilded frames. These are utterly charming images of a prosperous middle class family. It is rare for the group to have remained together for about 250 years and is nearly always the sign that the portraits have remained within the family.
Husband Peter wears a rose in his buttonhole and carries a stick which appears to be of a ceremonial type. Clearly these items are of significance, but their meaning is not known.
His wife Sarah, is dressed in a very fashionable and expensive manner. The flowers to her left are not just ornamental but signify her fruitfulness as a mother.
The children, Jane and Elizabeth, also expensively dressed, are shown with a basket of flowers and a dog. Again, these are symbols; the dog may have been a pet but it also represents trust and faithfulness, and is a reminder that, as animals need to be trained, so do children. The flowers are for their future fruitfulness in marriage. In the background can be seen a fortified manor house, probably their home but also representing their ancient family history. The walls around it seem to be of Yorkshire drystone walling.
The family have always believed that the portraits were by a Yorkshire artist, William Routh .. but no such artist is recorded. It is possible that Routh was a talented family friend and not a professional painter.
This surname LEGGAT was derived from the Old French LEGAT, and was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The name may have been given to an official elected to represent his village at the manor court.
Early records of the name mention Geoffrey Le Legat who was documented in the County Devon in 1273 and Ricardus Leget of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name include a certain Richard Colfe who married Elizabeth Legget at St. Dionis Backchurch, London in 1585. Henry Legit married Catherine Eagan, St, George's. Hanover Square, London in 1770.
SIZE: framed; 34 x 28.5 inches (the adults); the children 33x 28.5 inches.
PROVENANCE: By descent through the family in Yorkshire.
Accompanying the portraits are several old family documents and a Book of Common Prayer given my Peter to his father John in 1786. It must have been well used as a note says it was rebound in 1812.
Internal Ref: 9055


Height = 86 cm (34")
Width = 72 cm (29")
Depth = 2 cm (1")

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