(And possibly the Chaucer House-Warton-Tyson-Burdett-Couts-Plimpton Chaucer)
Painting on wooden panel, dismantled and examined by renowned Professor
Julius S. Held*** in 1947, who felt it to be 16th century at the very
latest (exhibiting characteristics of both 16th and 15th century paintings****).
The portrait is 15.5" high by 12.75" wide, inside. The frame
is of black wood, around a gilt inner frame. "Much restoration
over the last 400 years, most notably the beard has been filled in with
a bronze paint and some restoration has been made around the nose (All
from professor's Held and Hill) but even with the restoration, is still
in a fair state of preservation." (It should be noted that the
Bodleian Chaucer also had much restoration over the years.)
** Much speculation as to whether Chaucer actually ever lived in the
Chaucer house (see Marshall, The Early Years of Woodstock Manor. Oxford,
1873, Chp.VII) but certainly his son Thomas did, and thus the "Chaucer
portrait hanging from the earliest times" (John Aubrey) is perfectly
***** In the Burdett-Coutts collection and in the Christie catalogue listing this Chaucer was thought to be by "Occleve" (Hoccleve) thus the metal label on the portrait. This likely because of an old handwritten notation on paper, pasted to the cradling on the inside of the frame, (Held and Hill thought in an 18th century, early 19th century hand) that mentions Occleve. Occleve commissioned but did not actually paint things himself and Hill and Held felt the earlier Ellesmere Chaucer to be more similar. In any event, an early, erroneous attribution.
Note on Chaucer portraiture: All Chaucer portraits extant in both manuscript form (Hoccleve, Ellesmere, Landsdowne) and the small early portraits ie; No. 320 National Portrait Gallery, Bodeleian, etc) are all "memory portraits" at best. No extant portrait of Chaucer during his lifetime exists; Hoccleve's is closest to his lifetime, being within a short period of his death. The Plimpton Chaucer's early provenance is as murky as No. 320 in the National Gallery which only traces back to early 1800's before lost, The Bodleian portrait traces to early 1700's, has been retouched and restored, and in the article by Spielmann is said to "owe much of its prestige chiefly to where it resides." The UCLA Chaucer is without provenance, though much speculation that it is a very early, at least among the earliest of Chaucer portraits. The Fairfax-Murray-Seddon portrait, now at Harvard, has one of the best, though not ironclad provenances having been listed within inventory of Llanshaw Court for several hundred years before being given in 1803 to Benjamin Dyke, but Spielmann stated" it is still not possible to claim for it any positive authority".
|Home||Back to top|
Send us an email:
Click here to find out more.