|Title||Councillor James Atwood|
|Collection||Victoria Art Gallery, Bath|
|Artist||Diest, Johan van (Dutch painter, act. c.1700)|
|Description||This work was one of thirty portraits of Bath councillors which General Wade commissioned from Van Diest. It is a three-quarter length portrait of a middle-aged gentleman attired in a brown coat with a black gown, and wearing a shoulder-length, grey wig. The councillor is depicted standing with his left arm resting against a column plinth, and holding a black hat in his right hand.|
|Current Accession Number||BATVG:P:1984.12|
|Subject||portrait (James Atwood)|
|Measurements||127 x 101 cm (estimate)|
|Material||oil on canvas|
|Acquisition Details||Transferred from Bath City Council 1984.|
|Provenance||Commissioned from the artist by General George Wade MP 1728; given to Bath Corporation by General Wade 1728.|
|Publications||Corporation Pictures: Stranger's Guide, 1775, p. 45; Farwell, Busts in the Guildhall, Bath, 1907, pp. 11-12; Exhibition of Works by the Old Bath Artists, Bath, 1903, p. 9, cat. 13; Sloman, S., ‘General Wade's altar-piece for Bath Abbey: a reconstruction', The Burlington Magazine, CXXXIII, August 1991, pp. 507-10, ill. p. 509; Sloman, S., Victoria Art Gallery: Concise Catalogue of Paintings and Drawings, Bath, 1991, p. 109; Catalogue of Paintings at Guildhall, The Assembly Rooms and Pump Room, Bath, Bath, 1985, p. 8, cat. no. 14.|
|Notes||In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Atwoods were a prominent Bath family of tradesmen.James Atwood (d. 1760) was elected Alderman of the city of Bath in 1736, and Mayor in 1737 and 1748. He was buried in Bath Abbey.
This work was one of thirty portraits of Bath councillors which General Wade commissioned from van Diest, of which eight survive (1984.9-15 and 1986.1), as well as the portrait of General Wade commissioned by the council (1984.16). According to old sources, in the period 1766-c.1850 the pictures languished forgotten in a lumber room following the demolition of the old Guildhall, and this is when many were apparently stolen or ruined.
The present identifications of the councillors may not be correct in all cases.
General George Wade MP commissioned the portraits of thirty Bath councillors from Johan van Diest and presented them to the city of Bath. Council minutes, December 12, 1728, record the resolution ‘by general consent that a Letter shall be sent to General Wade to return him thanks for the Pictures he had presented this Corporation'. The councillor portraits and a high altar-piece for Bath Abbey, which Wade also commissioned from van Diest, established Wade as a major benefactor of the city.
George Wade (1673-1748) distinguished himself serving in Flanders and Spain. He was promoted to major general (1714), lieutenant-general (1727), field marshal (1743), and finally English commander-in-chief (1745). He engaged in anti-Jacobite activities in Bath in 1715. Wade served as Member of Parliament for Bath from 1722 until his death in 1748. In the early 1720s he built a town house there overlooking the abbey, and also commissioned a London residence from Lord Burlington, modelled on a drawing by Palladio. Between 1724 and 1726 at the command of George I, Wade planned and supervised road-building in the Scottish highlands.
|Rights Owner||Victoria Art Gallery, Bath|
|Author||Dr Susan Steer|