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Title Portrait of Richard Bateman (d. 1773)
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Levrac-Tournières, Robert (French painter, 1667-1752)
Date 1741 (dated)
Signed yes
Description Richard Bateman (called 'Dicky') is shown wearing a richly embroidered Chinese gown, his hand points to a Chinese calligraphic scroll resting on a ledge, on the front of which is painted a grisaille bas-relief. In the background is a building à la chinois painted red, blue and yellow and decorated with carved dragons. Bateman was an influential arbiter of taste and a close friend of Horace Walpole. He introduced Chinese and Indian styles into his house and garden, Grove House, at Old Windsor and the Thames. In 1781, seven years after Bateman's death, Walpole wrote to Lord Strafford that Richard Bateman was the 'founder of the Sharawadgi taste in England'. Bateman's eclectic tastes are confirmed by George Lyttleton's description of Grove House as 'half-gothic, half attic, half-chinese and completely fribble', a description supported by Thomas Robbins' views (private collection) painted before 1748.
Current Accession Number 1974P19
Former Accession Number P.19´74
Inscription front lr 'R Tournier 1741' [illegible]
Subject portrait (Bateman, Richard)
Measurements 49.0 x 35.8 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased from Paul Levi with the aid of the V & A Purchase Grant Fund 1974.
Provenance Commissioned by Richard Bateman's elder brother, William, Ist Viscount Bateman, in Paris, 1741; Major Derick Hill Wood; Paul Levi sale Sotheby's 24 October 1973, lot 137.
Principal Exhibitions Paris Salon, 1742, cat. no. 7
Publications Harris, J., 'Father of the Gardenesque', Country Life, 1979, p. 1838; Cannon-Brookes, P., ' Picture Framing: A Neglected Art', NACF Review, 1984, p. 90, 92; Cannon-Brookes, P., 'Robert Tournière, Lord Bateman and Two Picture Frames', The International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, 1985, pp. 141-145; Harris, J., 'A pioneer in gardening - Dickie Bateman re-assessed', Apollo, October 1993, p. 230; Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983, no. 146.
Notes The commission is mentioned in a series of letters belonging to the widow of Major Hill Wood, Hunters Hill, Hartley, Witney, Hants. Dr John Harris of the Royal Instititute of British Architects had copies of the relevant extracts.

In a letter to Richard Bateman, written by Viscount Bateman from Paris, 24 October 1741, he told him that the painter was waiting for a drawing of the porch, while in a letter of the 27 October, 1741 he reported that 'your porch is placed in your picture and has a charming effect'. In a third letter, Viscount Bateman refers to the frame as 'the prettiest and finest that ever was seen. Tournier and others say there never was one made at Paris §si magnifique et si bon gout§'. In 1742, Viscount Bateman paid £300 for the frame, the same price that he paid Le Vrac for the portrait. Le Vrac was also commissioned to paint a second portrait of John Bateman (called 'Slender') son of William, 1st Viscount Bateman which was framed equally lavishly (sold Sotheby's, 24 October 1973, lot 137).

Letter from Dr. Giles Worsley (1993) states that the building in the background is a garden house, not a dwelling house as John Harris suggested.

Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth
 

 

 

 

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