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The upper landing-place presents a curious mixture, as, among other figures, we have Samson with a jaw-bone; IIercules in the lion's skin, with his massy club; a gallant crusader; a placid woman; and a fury with distorted features, gnashing her teeth and grasping a snake. It is known that, in consequence of some objection being made to them by the late Queen of France, these statues were removed from the staircase during the royal occupation of the house; and, when replaced, they were probably restored in the present promiscuous manner by accident. It is evident that some of them are mere allusive and popular emblems; but others must be considered to represent particular persons, and are therefore objects of interest.
$ 3. TIE PAINTINGS.
There are few mansions, of the age and extent of Hartwell House, that are not furnished with sufficient productions of elegant genius for the beholders to contemplate with pleasure, instruction, and meditation, as they may severally be inclined: and here are specimens of such variety and in so many different stages of the imitative art, that they are calculated to suit every taste.
The paintings are principally distributed in the breakfast-room, the dining-room, the library, the study, and some of the first floor apartments; and, as I have just hinted, they include products of every branch of artistic skill, whether portraits, groups, landscapes, architectural views, or flowers and still life. Of these a few must be here cited; but I propose to select such only as are remarkable for their excellence, their rarity, or their local interest.
In chronological deference, we might begin with the old picture containing the portraits of Marcus Frienus, Christopherus Laudinus, Angelo Politianus, and Demetrius Græcus: but, as entitled to artistic precedence, the “Old Man's Head,” together with its companion, the “Old Woman's Head,” both painted by Rembrandt, should, perhaps, first be brought forward. These are two admirable specimens of the powerful command of light, shadow, finish, and colour, possessed by that accomplished artist; and the Old Man's Head exhibits the peculiar handling called “glazing," which he touched so ably without im
“ pinging upon spirit. There are also two other heads, so closely in his style as to have been entered in the house catalogue as productions of his pencil; but we can only assign them to some disciple, who was aiming at the remarkable depth of expression of Van Ryn.
In the study is the head of a priest by Vandyck, of almost matchless colouring, and inimitable truth of expression ; being at once easy and natural. In the dining-room is another painting by the same great artist : it is a fulllength representation of William Marquess of Newcastle; but the plain dull countenance of that indifferent statesman is far from being relieved by the wellexecuted and simple disposition of the attire, or the large pointed collar which the pencil has delineated. Of a third production of his pencil I shall speak presently.
In the same room there is a thoughtful Dutch lady dressed in black, said to be the daughter of ..... Coe, a merchant of Holland; it was painted by Van der Helst, and is a fine specimen of the Murillo manner, or perhaps Rembrandt's middle style. And, among other specimens of the Flemish school, the Boors by Ostade; the Collector in his Museum, with“ spectacles on 's nose," after Gerard Douw; Isaac blessing Jacob; and Tobit curing his father's blindness, by Sebastian Bourdain, must be studied : and we should also name as worthy of notice the elaborate pictures of Fruit and Flowers, by Witthoos, and by Van der Vaart; Game, by Van de Bilt; Insects and Flowers, by Otho Venius; Landscapes, by Cuyp, Weeninx, the brothers Jacob and Solomon Ruysdael; and the fine marine view before mentioned, by Adrian Van Diest, which has the happy transparent effect of the master, at once harmonizing the shipping, the landscape, and the several groups of figures.
There are several good family portraits by Sir Peter Lely, in which his known talent of giving life to the eye, and an amiable expression to every feature, are happily shewn. Sir Peter was a neighbour of the Hartwell family; having been proprietor of a farm at Prince's Risborough, conveyed to him by Lord Hawley in 1672. He painted the portrait of Vandyck which is in the diningroom; as well as a large family group of children of Thomas Lee, created a Baronet in 1660; a lady, supposed to have been the baronet’s wife; Mary Lee, the sister of Sir Thomas; Samuel Lee, his brother; and Sir William Holcroft in armour. Each of these productions is finely finished, of easy attitude, agreeable drapery, and warmth of colour; and the whole bear internal evidence of resemblance to the sitters.
There are also various family heads by Sir Godfrey Kneller, the tone and
expression of which remind one of his famous master, in his best day. Of these, Sir Thomas Lee, the third Baronet, attired in orange-coloured velvet, and Elizabeth Sandys, his wife, in a rich scarlet dress, are of great merit; as is also the portrait of Thomas Sandys, the lady's father, who in a rich brown picture, in Sir Godfrey's best manner, is represented in an attitude well suited to the firm expression of his countenance: the costume is Levantine. The maternal uncle of this lady, John Browne, also appears, his good countenance surmounted by a well-curled wig: he was a merchant, and esteemed himself on belonging to the potent city of London,-a city which has become the mainspring and regulator of the commerce of the globe.
Kneller morcover painted the excellent portrait of Alice, daughter of Thomas IIopkins, merchant, wife of the second Sir Thomas Lee; but that of Sarah Sandys, the sister of the above-mentioned Lady Lee, was painted by John Claxton, of Shirley, in Hertfordshire, who became her husband, and who very successfully copied Sir Godfrey's manner. Judith, the amiable wife of Sir George Lee, and her father, IIumphrey Morice, a Turkey merchant, an intelligent-looking middle-aged gentleman, are likewise from the easel of Kneller, and indicate strict attention to individuality.
In the study is a portrait of the Right IIon. IIumphrey Morice, brother of the wife of Sir George Lee, in an easy reclining attitude, resting from field sports with his dogs and gun, in a fine landscape scene. Near him is a highlyfinished painting of Ann, daughter of the third Sir Thomas Lee, in an elegant costume, and in the background is a view of Sudbury, the seat of George Venables Vernon, Esq. afterwards Baron Vernon, to whom she was married. Opposite this is a similarly-painted picture, representing Spencer Schutz, Esq. of Shotover, near Oxford, who married the widow of Colonel John Lee, resting against the stump of a tree with his gun in his hand.
From a striking resemblance of style, these were formerly supposed to have been painted by the same artist; but now the lady is considered to have been portrayed by young Francis Mieris, and the gentleman by Arthur Davis. In the same room is a wellpainted infant, attired in a splendid satin dress with point-lace ruffles; it is
supposed to be the noted “warming-pan child” of James II. and Mary of Modena. A large family picture is of local interest, as it represents a party composed of Lees, Fiotts, and Arrowsmiths, at a grand hunt at Colworth ; and it is curious that it was painted by John Hunt, a knick-knack-aterian of Bedford. There is also an expressive portrait of Lee Antonie, when a boy, fondling a fine large dog, by Daniel Gardner, the friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds; and a small marine painting by Mr. Cowden, Clerk of the Stables to the Queen of England, and presented by him to Sir George Lee.
There are two large paintings in the dining-room, by the intelligent Allan Ramsay, who was a favourite court-painter about a century ago. One of these represents Caroline, consort of George II. with William the young Duke of Cumberland by her side: he is attired in brocade petticoats, with a blue sash over his left shoulder, fastened with a jewel. It is a laboured piece, as the brocade witnesseth; and, from medals and prints of the day, the likeness appears to be truthful. The other picture bears a whole-length of Mrs. IIales, another daughter of Humphrey Morice, taking to the fields in a white satin dress, holding a small bow and arrow, which in her hands seems really telum imbelle; a silver crescent on the forehead stamps Diana, the Goddess of Chase and Chastity,—but the tout ensemble certainly displays greater merit of execution than of conception. Ramsay also painted the portrait of Colonel John Lee, brother of the Chief Justice, which hangs in the study.
Over one of the doors of the library is a portrait by Hudson, a Dublin artist, of Simon first Earl Harcourt, Viceroy of Ireland, the grandfather of Lady Elizabeth Lee; and over another door is one of Sir George Lee of Doctors' Commons, by the same artist. This last was twice engraved in mezzotinto, and one copperplate served for both occasions. In the first instance, by Faber, Sir George appears in a fashionable velvet coat, with a neckcloth carefully twisted and beaded; but afterwards, though the countenance remained unaltered, an artist named Wills scraped out the modish dress, and replaced it with a full-length regulation lawyer's wig, and robes to match. Impressions of both tirages are in Dr. Lee's portfolios.