Full-length portrait of The Hon. Augustus Townshend
Full-length portrait of The Hon. Augustus Townshend

ANDREA CASALI (1705-1784)

Full-length portrait of The Hon. Augustus Townshend

c. 1745 England

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Andrea Casali (Civitavecchia 1705 - 1784 Rome). Portrait of the Hon. Augustus Townshend (1716-1745), a Captain with the East India Company, circa 1745. Inscribed upper right: 'Augs. Townshend Obt. 1745/2nd son of Charles Lord Vis./Townshend by his 2nd wife'. Oil on canvas, framed. Dimensions: approx. 224 x 146 cm. / 88 x 57 inches, excl. frame.

This picture, which shows the sitter standing full-length in an elegant and lofty room, has impressive provenance, having once hung in Lambeth Palace. It is in the top order of mid-eighteenth century full-length portraits of “men of the day”. The sitter is the Hon. Augustus Townshend, second son of Charles, 2nd Viscount Townshend and his second wife, Dorothy, daughter of Robert Walpole of Houghton, Norfolk, and sister of Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Oxford. Augustus Townshend was a merchant adventurer and Captain with the East India Company. It is recorded that in 1745 Townshend commanded the ship Augusta on its voyage to the East Indies. At some point during the voyage Townshend fell in and subsequently died in Batavia, at a tragically young age. In this portrait he is portrayed proudly demonstrating a commission from the Company, as he points to the map and papers on the table to his right.

The artist, Andrea Casali, was born in Civitavecchia near Rome in 1705 and studied in The Eternal City as a pupil of Sebastiano Conca and Francesco Trevisani. In the late 1720s and 1730s, under the patronage of Pope Benedetto XIII, Casali gained several important religious commissions in Rome, mainly church frescoes, a notable example of which is the series in the cloister of San Sisto Vecchio. The present portrait was executed during Casali’s long stay in England, a period of some 25 years, from 1741 to 1766. Once in England, Casali found a patron in William Beckford, who commissioned him to carry out the decoration of his mansion at Fonthill in Wiltshire. Towards the end of his stay in England, Casali worked alongside Robert Adam on the decoration of Syon House, owned by Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland.
Giancarlo Sestieri, 'Repertorio Della Pittura Romana Della Fine del Seicento e del Settecento', Umberto Allemandi & C., Turin, Vol I, p.43 & 44, Vol II, no.224, illustrated
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