Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd

  • Plumbago on parchment
  • 4½ × 3 ½ inches · 115 × 90 mm
  • Drawn c. 1701-04

Collections

  • Presumably Sir Andrew Fountaine (1676-1753); 
  • Commander Andrew Fountaine (1918-1997) by descent at Narford Hall, Norfolk;
  • Christie's, London, 15th October 1996, lot 133;
  • Mrs T. S. Eliot (1926-2012); 
  • Eliot sale, Christie’s 20th November 2013, lot.106 

Sir Andrew Fountaine was 'the immediate predecessor of Horace Walpole as a national arbiter in matters of taste and vertue.'[1] This portrait by Forster captures him as a young man, either shortly before or after his first continental tour of 1701-4. Fountaine was a precocious figure, whilst at university he was selected by Henry Aldrich, dean of Christ Church to make the Latin oration to William III on his entry to Oxford in 1698 and he was knighted as a result the following year. Fountaine accompanied Lord Macclesfield to carry the Act of Succession to the Elector of Hanover in 1701 before travelling on to Italy.  According to a manuscript biography of Fountaine written for Walpole, Fountaine stayed in Italy for two years and 'became acquainted with most of the principal literati, connoisseurs, virtuosi, &c. and made a large acquisition of medals (which was his forte)’. On coming back to England, he returned to Oxford to complete his studies and inherited Narford Hall in Norfolk on his father's death in 1707. Fountaine made a second Grand Tour in 1714 where he acted as an agent for his friend Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke acquiring paintings for Wilton.

This exquisitely rendered portrait captures Fountaine at the beginning of his career. Forster shows Fountaine in a fashionable full-bottomed wig, elaborately embroidered jacket and silk drapery over his right arm. Fountaine’s features are rendered with minute attention to detail. Inventories of Fountaine's possessions at Narford survive, dated 1753 and 1758, but his collections are now largely dispersed.[2] His famous collection of majolica sold at Christie's, 16-19 June 1884, and his prints and drawings, which included 'magnificent impressions' of Van Dyck and many early German prints, 7-10 July 1884.[3] Among English drawings, Fountaine owned a volume of drawings by Francis Barlow which is now in the British Museum, and Jonathan Swift's own drawings for the Tale of the Tub, 'sent to Narford for Sir Andrew's approval and never returned.'[4] His collection of miniature portraits was destroyed by a fire in 1733. A sale of pictures took place at Christie's on 7 July 1894 and Fountaine's library was sold at Sotheby's on 11 June 1902.

References

  1. J C Robinson, 'The Fountaine Collection', The Times, 18 April 1884. 
  2. London, National Art Library MSL/1996/5, London, National Archives C 101/5962. 
  3. 'The Fountaine Collection of Prints and Drawings', The Times, 10 July 1884. 
  4. 'The Fountaine Collection of Prints and Drawings', The Times, 10 July 1884.