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I am grateful to Latham scholar and Irish art connoisseur Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin, for his views concerning this portrait.
Born between 1700 and 1704 Fulwar Craven was the younger son of William, 2nd Baron Craven, by his wife Elizabeth Skipwith, after whose brother Sir Fulwar Skipwith he was presumably named. Educated at Rugby School and Magdalen College, Oxford, he became High Steward of Newbury, and was about to stand for Parliament for Berkshire when his brother's death in 1739 brought him the Barony of Craven. Famously fond of racing and hunting, he kept his own stud and founded the racecourse at Lambourn. He also founded the Craven Hunt, and regularly rode to hounds on his Berkshire estates of Hamstead Marshall and Ashdown Park, depicted as such in James Seymour's A Kill at Ashdown Park, 1743 (Tate Britain). When not drawn to Berkshire for these country pursuits he resided at the family estate of Coombe Abbey, in Warwickshire. He died on 10 November 1764 and was buried at Hamstead Marshall; unmarried and without children he was succeeded by his nephew William.
Latham was born in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. He studied for a year in Antwerp (1724-25) where he became a Master of the Guild of St Luke. He returned to Dublin by 1725, and may have visited England in the 1740s, as the influence of Joseph Highmore, as well as Charles Jervas and William Hogarth, is evident in his work of this period. Anthony Pasquin, writing in the 1790s, memorably dubbed Latham "Ireland's Van Dyck". He died in Dublin on 26 January 1747. Several of his portraits are in the National Gallery of Ireland.
In this portrait Latham has depicted Fulwar Craven at the age of about forty, shortly after succeeding to the barony. If the painter travelled to London, as has been suggested, then this commission could have been undertaken during that time. Equally equestrian interests could have taken Craven to Dublin and possibly the artist's studio. Either way, this portrait, with its skillful rendering of the embroidery of the clothes and expressive nature of the sitter, is characteristic of the artist's portraiture of the 1740s.
|Height||30.00 inch||(76.20 cm)|
|Width||24.50 inch||(62.23 cm)|