A portrait of two children on a classical terrace overlooking a garden. The girl, standing, wears a white gown with blue cloak attached with pearls and holds a basket of flowers in one hand and a sprig of orange blossom in the other. The younger boy is seated on a plinth wearing clothes in the classical tradition, with an ostrich feather headdress, holding his pet dog. An angel looks down on them from above right. Signed and dated 'R.Byng fecit 16..' (probably 1697).
Christies London, 5th April 1946, lot 22 sold by R. N. V. Sutton Esq. to Berendt.
Private collection, Sweden
Ellis Waterhouse, The Dictionary of 16th and 17th Century British Painters 1988, page 40.
Sir Roy Strong, The British Portrait 1660 - 1960, 1991, page 126
This portrait of two children, most likely siblings, is featured in 'The Dictionary of 16th and 17th Century British Painters' by Ellis Waterhouse, 1988, page 40, and listed as 'wherabouts unknown' until recently rediscovered in a private collection in Sweden.
Robert Byng (Wiltshire 1666-1720 Oxford) was a portrait painter born in Wiltshire to Thomas and Anne 'Binge'. His younger brother Edward was drapery painter to Kneller and his principal assistant until Kneller's death. His earliest dated portraits were painted c.1697 and show the influence of Kneller who also may have been his master. There are drawings by both Edward and Robert Byng in the British Museum which include a large number of studies of portraits by Kneller.
This is a beautiful example of Byng's talent for child portraiture. There is a softness and sensitivity in his approach and he uses simple yet decorative devices to add layers of meaning and to emphasize the childrens' innocence and youth - the pet dog representing loyalty and friendship and the basket of flowers and orange blossom, purity, innocence and readiness for marriage. The angel looking down on them is likely to be a representation of another sibling who has passed away and the parents' desire to commemorate them in the portrait alongside their other children.
You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in our emails.
British and European paintings and sculpture from the 16th To 19th century