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Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart)
An Elderly Couple
Oil on parchment, laid down on canvas, 48.1 x 69.2 cm, parchment 47.1 x 67.8 cm, painted surface approximately 46.0 x 66.9 cm


NG1689 was possibly the ‘Two Portraits in one Picture' – ‘very animated and elaborately finished’ which, attributed to Quinten Massys, was sold at Christie’s on 21 May 1808 (120) by ‘Burrell’: Sir Charles Merrik Burrell (1774–1862), MP.1 It was bought, for the very high price of £215 5s., by Hill – the dealer Philip Hill (c.1766–1836) of Greek Street, Soho. It reappeared as no. 17, ‘Massys, The Portrait of Foger (and his Wife,) …’, in Hill’s exhibition of ‘capital Pictures for Sale by Private Contract’ which began on 16 April 1810 at the Old Academy Room, 118 Pall Mall. It was once again sold at a very high price, 300 guineas.2 NG1689 was certainly by 1824 in the collection of Landseer’s friend and patron William Wells (1760–1847) of Redleaf in Kent where it was attributed to Massys. It was sold with the rest of Wells’s pictures at Christie’s on 13 May 1847 (76) and was bought by Seguier for Mrs Whyte. She was Maria Louisa Simpson (1773–1855), widow of the lawyer Mark Anthony Whyte (died 1838), and lived at Barrow Hill near Rocester in Staffordshire. By her will of 12 January 1855 she bequeathed Barrow Hill and the pictures there to her niece, Louisa Jane Finch Simpson, widow of Henry Dawson (died 1849).3 Mrs Dawson died in 1865; her son, Captain Arthur Finch Dawson (1836–1928), inherited the house and the pictures. NG1689 was purchased in 1900 through the restorer and dealer Ayerst Hooker Buttery (1868–1929), London.

Further Sections

1. Fredericksen et al. 1990, I, p. 577. In the copy of the sale catalogue at the Courtauld Institute is the annotation ‘2 ¼ 2 fine’ which, in the code used by this annotator (who gives very approximate measurements and seems to include frames), means 2¼ feet high by 2 feet wide, or 61 x 68.5 cm. Burton Fredericksen, in a letter of 9 January 1990, kindly drew attention to this and other facts relating to the sale catalogues of 1808 and 1810.

2. Fredericksen et al. 1990, I, p. 577. Note in the copy of the sale catalogue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (information kindly given by Burton Fredericksen). The sale was advertised in the ‘Times’ of 16 April 1810, p. 1: admission cost 1s., as did the catalogue.

3. Will proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 16 January 1856: NA, PROB 11/2226, sig. 74.