Anne, Lady Morland (née Feilding) (1660–1680)
This portrait mezzotint is after a painting by Sir Peter Lely, whose career spanned the reign of Charles I into the Restoration period under Charles II. This print is notable because it is from Lely’s own collection, as denoted by the appearance of his collection mark – the stamped initials ‘P.L.’- on the left-hand side of the margin. The print was published by a man called Richard Tompson, who died in 1693 (his date of birth is not known). Tompson was not only a publisher of fine quality reproductive prints, but a picture dealer as well. His name is linked to another important figure in this period - Alexander Browne. Together these men established a practice of art auctioning, the earliest example of regular practice in London. The first known advertisement is dated 1680, but they may have been collaborating for a few years before this point. Tompson was also the auctioneer of the sale of Lely’s collection of (mainly) paintings in 1682, and again later for the sale of the artist’s prints and drawings in 1688 (there was a second sale in 1694 after Tompson’s death the previous year).
The painter and publisher had an interesting working relationship. A large proportion of prints bearing Tompson’s name as publisher are after Lely’s portrait paintings. It is because of this that it is thought a business deal existed between the two men, although what the terms of the arrangement were and how Lely might have profited from it are uncertain. Tompson produced uniform, high quality reproductions in mezzotint of Lely’s pictures (just as his associate Browne published prints of a similar appearance after Kneller’s canvases). Unfortunately the prints published by Tompson do not bear the name of a printmaker, although it is thought that these men were almost certainly immigrant artists (a very few of Tompson’s plates were inscribed with the name of one such artist, Jan van der Vaart; and one proof in the collection of the National Portrait gallery is inscribed with the name of Johannes van Somer). The great stylistic similarity between the plates points to idea that the artists working for Tompson were very few in number. The format of the prints is this: the sitter is portrayed full length, without cropping the painter’s portrait to bust length, as had been the norm in Britain for most of the century. Room on the plate was left for a margin where the sitter’s name and Lely’s name would be printed. The prints do not display a date, and there is no documentary evidence to assign a date to each portrait. However, they were published prior to Lely’s knighthood in 1680, as his name is displayed without any indication of this change in rank (in later states of some of these prints ‘Sr’ was scratched into the plate before Lely’s name - P.243-1947 and P.247-1947 are examples of this).
The sitter was the brother of Robert (Beau) Feilding (1650/1-1712), whose extravagant lifestyle encompassed the vices of gambling, womanizing and bigamy. Feilding was also painted by Lely, as well as Godefrey Kneller and Willem Wissing, a Dutch painter who had come to England as Lely’s assistant. For prints in the collection after these paintings, see P.11151-R, P.9711-R and P.16-1947
Anne was the third wife of Sir Samuel Morland (1625-1695) P.7048-R, who was also an interesting character. She married him in November 1676 and died childless in February 1680. Her husband had not been a popular presence at the royal court, and although he had received a handsome pension of £500, most of this was dissipated by the mid 1660s. To attract attention of the king, Morland took up a wide range of scientific experiments: machines to copy documents (an offset process using damp tissue paper); portable stoves; speaking trumpets; and pumps to supply or remove water for domestic or industrial purposes.
To see more objects from Lely's collection in the Fitzwilliam Museum, click here.
Museum Number P.11101-R