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Major Richard Callis
Courtesy of Philip Mould & Company
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Major Richard Callis
c.1741
Oil on canvas
76.2 x 63.5 cm
30 x 25 in.
P8
The Hon. Mrs Nellie Ionides (fourth daughter of Sir Marcus Samuel, Viscount Bearsted of Upton House, Warwickshire) and Mr Basil Ionides, architect, Buxted Park, Sussex; by family descent; Philip Mould Ltd, 29, Dover Street, London W1S 4NA
Unsigned; no inscription
Wilson's technique in this early work presages the execution of his landscape paintings. In particular, the broad, clear use of colour and the preference for strokes of white impasto - here employed in the wig - have parallels in the landscapes, where the white pigment is similarly impastoed in the clouds.
Nothing is known of the sitter but he is dressed in the uniform of the First or King's Dragoon Guards. This regiment had been raised to deal with the insurrection of the Duke of Monmouth in 1685 and since then had enjoyed an illustrious history.
This and other early portraits clearly demonstrate that Wilson's talent in portraiture was far from mediocre. The oval fictive frame was a favouriter device of his and other portraitists of the period.
C. Hussey, 'Buxted Park III', Country Life, August 18, 1950, p. 520, fig. 6.
Around the time this portrait was painted, the First Dragoon Guards engaged with the French at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743, where the British Army was led in person by Georege II (the last instance of a British sovereign commanding the army in the field) and at Fontenoy in 1745.