PORTRAIT OF ELIZABETH ANNE FORDYCE (PAINTING WATERCOLOUR LANDSCAPES) IN THE LITTLE SITTING ROOM AT PUTNEY, Jane Maxwell Fordyce

PORTRAIT OF ELIZABETH ANNE FORDYCE (PAINTING WATERCOLOUR LANDSCAPES) IN THE LITTLE SITTING ROOM AT PUTNEY, Jane Maxwell Fordyce

18th century England

Offered by Charles Plante Fine Arts

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On the edge of Putney Heath at the top of Putney Hill, next to the Green Man public house, a villa was taken by John Fordyce (1735-1809) in the very late eighteenth century. The rate books giving his residence from 1798, but rate collectors entries were often delayed upon a change of occupancy. On the evidence of this drawing, Fordyce must have been there by 1796, when he was elected MP for New Romney.

The son of an Edinburgh lawyer, owner of several estates at and around Ayton, Berwickshire, forfeited in 1715 from supporters of the Elder Pretender, he became a banker in Edinburgh and by the age of 24 was very successful as a merchant councillor and director of the Royal Bank. In 1767 he married Catherine, daughter of Sir William Maxwell, 3rd Bt. of Monteith. Her younger sister's subsequent marriage in the same year to the 4th Duke of Gordon propelled Fordyce to the top of Scottish society. The failure of his banking house in 1772, was linked to the collapse of his cousin Alexander Fordyce's London bank [he was a fellow Putney Heath resident], and other financial embarrassments, had little effect on John Fordyce's social standing. Powerful political friends, including Pitt the Younger and Fox, along with his own resilience, ensured his survival in his public posts, successively Receiver General of Land Rents and Land Tax for Scotland 1768-83, Secretary to the Commissioners for Enquiring into Crown Lands 1786- 7, Commissioner of the same 1787-93, and Surveyor General for Crown Lands from 1793 until his death. At the subsequent election in 1802 he was returned as MP for Berwick-upon- Tweed, only to be unseated some months later on appeal.

Fordyce had two sons and at least four daughters; the present drawing is of one these daughters by another. She is depicted painting watercolour landscapes in the little sitting room of the fashionable house developed from a cottage recorded on the site from at least 1617, but by 1793 described as 'a handsome house' by J Edwards, author of A Companion from London to Brighthelmston. As this elaborately painted fashionable interior shows, the family lived in prosperous style with up-to-the-minute neo-classical 'Etruscan' decoration, fitted patterned carpets, Hepplewhite Pembroke table and chair, and a neo-classical chimney-piece. The Putney villas were desirable, situated high above the Thames with extensive prospects over London and Middlesex, from Richmond to Highgate. Interior views of the Putney villas are very rare.
Dorian Gerhold, Villas & Mansions of Roehampton & Putney Heath, Wandsworth Historical Society, 1997, pp72-3
Richard Garnier, 'Two "Crystalline Villas" of the 1760s', The Georgian Group Journal, vol VII, 1997, pp9-25
Dimensions
Height 305.00 mm (12.01 inches)
Width 229.00 mm (9.02 inches)
Medium
Watercolour with pen and sepia ink and traces of pencil
Signed/Inscribed
Signed:Yes Inscribed: Yes
Charles Plante Fine Arts

Charles Plante Fine Arts
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