Portrait of the Countess of Sunderland
Portrait of the Countess of Sunderland
Portrait of the Countess of Sunderland
Portrait of the Countess of Sunderland
Portrait of the Countess of Sunderland
Portrait of the Countess of Sunderland

After ANTON VAN DYKE (1599-1641)

Portrait of the Countess of Sunderland

c. 1660 to c. 1699 England

Offered by Titan Fine Art

£6,950 gbp
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Dorothy Spencer (née Sidney), Countess of Sunderland (c.1617-1684), was the wife of Henry Spencer, 1st Earl of Sunderland, and the daughter of Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester, and Lady Dorothy Percy. She was an ancestor of the late Lady Diana, Princess of Wales. Lady Dorothy was celebrated not only for her beauty but for wit, charm and intelligence. In 1639 she married Henry, 1st Earl of Sunderland & 3rd Baron Spencer and the couple went to France to live with Dorothy's parents, where her father was ambassador. Later they returned to England in 1641 but her husband was killed at the First Battle of Newbury shortly thereafter, leaving Dorothy with two children, and pregnant with a third.

Dorothy took over the running of Althorp and ensured its protection from both warring parties. She managed to see that no devastation overtook Althorp, aided by her husband's uncle, Sir Edward Spencer. Dorothy was responsible for the dramatic transformation in Althorp, from Tudor to Stuart style. Dorothy was persuaded to remarry again by her father and in 1652 she married Robert Smythe, of Roundes, in the parish of Bidborough, Kent. Smythe was from the family of Viscounts Stangford, of Ireland. The couple had one child: Robert who became governor of Dover Castle during the reign of Charles II.

The present portrait has been modelled from a portrait painted by Van Dyck’s c.1639 of the sitter (Egremont family collection, Petworth House). Van Dyke’s work was notoriously replicated but not all copies were painted by nameless ‘followers’. Such was Van Dyck’s lasting impact on portraiture in England that even major artists regularly copied his works and even shortly after Van Dyke’s death there were numerous such copies in circulation. The present portrait is an example of this trend and has been expertly painted.
UK private collection
External Height 92.00 cm (36.22 inches)
External Width 80.00 cm (31.50 inches)
Oil on canvas.
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