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Francis Basset, 1st Baron of Dunstanville
Batoni, Pompeo
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Batoni, Pompeo

Lucca, Tuscany, 1708 - Rome, 1787

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Francis Basset, 1st Baron of Dunstanville

1778. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

This full-length portrait by Pompeo Batoni shows a young English nobleman dressed in a scarlet coat, posing against the Roman countryside. The picture conforms to the Grand Tour portrait model of which Batoni, together with other artists such as Anton Raphael Mengs, became a leading practitioner, attaining success particularly among British patrons. Here the sitter is holding a walking stick and a tricorn hat in his right hand; his left arm rests gracefully on a marble pedestal decorated with an Antique basso-rilievo, and in his left hand he holds a copy of Giambattista Nolli’s Nuova Topografia di Roma (1748) - drawn in chalk over the oil paint and subsequently varnished. On the ground to the left lies a fragment of an ancient marble frieze frequently seen in other paintings by Batoni, while in the background are St Peter’s Basilica and the Castel Sant’Angelo, which recur in his portrait of Emperor Joseph II and his brother Leopold I, 1769 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). The same composition and elements of the landscape are found in earlier portraits by Batoni.

This painting, however, is the only known example in which the low-relief group of Orestes and Electra, derived from the Roman sculptural group now at the Palazzo Altemps, Rome, is depicted in reverse. This painting is of outstanding quality and is considered to be the last portrait of this size to be wholly painted by Batoni. The sitter is Francis Basset (1757-1835). He was from a wealthy family linked to Tehidy Country Park in Cornwall, where they owned copper and tin mines that recorded great profits. Orphaned at an early age, Basset became the sole heir of the family’s fortune. He was educated at Harrow, Eton, and King’s College, Cambridge, and in the spring of 1777 set off on a Continental Grand Tour in the company of his tutor, the Reverend William Sandys. Basset must have posed for Batoni during his Roman sojourn from December 1777 to May 1778. Batoni would have been well paid, given that the commission involved a full-length image and the production of a replica. As Father John Thorpe noted in a letter to Lord Arundell in 1774, cited by Edgar Peters Bowron, Pompeo works only for those who pay him most and at the same time he is meanly raising his price.

The portrait came to Madrid on board the Westmorland, a British merchant ship laden with works of art acquired by several young British noblemen during their Grand Tours. It arrived unframed with another portrait of Basset by Batoni, also unframed. The latter, a half-length portrait of smaller size with significantly different composition, remained at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid, where it is still found today. In both portraits we find Batoni’s signature and date: Pompeius de Batoni. Pinx Romae 1778.

It was common practice for Batoni to produce copies of his works, and around thirty examples of double versions within the artist’s oeuvre are known. However, the issue of how much of the copy was actually painted by Batoni and how much by his studio depended on the particular client. In general, the second version was executed by the studio, and particularly after 1760 these replicas were largely painted by assistants.

Sánchez-Jáuregui, Mª Dolores, Pompeo Batoni 'Francis Basset' En:. Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, 2014, p.270

Technical data

Inventory number
Batoni, Pompeo
Francis Basset, 1st Baron of Dunstanville
Height: 221 cm; Width: 157 cm
Royal Collection (Royal Palace, Madrid, dormitorio de príncipes-habitación del infante don Carlos, 1814-1818, s.n.).

Bibliography +

Distribución de los premios concedidos por el Rey nuestro señor a los discípulos de las nobles artes, hecha por la Real Academia de San Fernando en la Junta pública de 17 de julio de 1784, Madrid, 1784, pp. 84.

Inventario de las Pinturas del Museo Hecho a la Muerte del Rey, Madrid, 1834, pp. 47.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972, pp. 32.

Urrea Fernández, Jesús, La pintura italiana del siglo XVIII en España, Secretariado de Publicaciones de la Universidad, Valladolid, 1977, pp. 245.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 36.

Clark, Anthony Moris, Pompeo Batoni. A Complete Catalogue of His Works With An Int, Phaidon, Oxford, 1985, pp. 345 n.405 lam.368, p.370..

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Buendía, José Rogelio, El Prado. Colecciones de Pintura, Lunwerg Editores, Barcelona, 1994, pp. 349.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds MercatorFundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 312.

Sánchez Jáuregui, Maria Dolores, Two portraits of Francis Basset by Pompeo Batoni in Madrid, The Burlington magazine, 143, 2001, pp. 420-425.

El Westmorland: recuerdos del Grand Tour, Fundación el Monte, Murcia, 2002, pp. 292-295 n.51.

Crespo Delgado, Daniel, Il giro del mondo. 'El viage fuera de España' (1785) de Antonio Ponz, Reales Sitios, 152, 2002, pp. 76.

Sánchez-Ramon, Mar, Oriente en Palacio: Tesoros Asiaticos en las Colecciones Rey, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 2003, pp. ?.

Enciclopedia del Museo del Prado, II, T.F. Editores: Fundación Amigos, Madrid, 2006, pp. 460.

Pompeo Batoni : prince of painters in eighteenth-century Rome, Londres: Yale University Press, Londres, 2007, pp. 77 n.74.

Bowron E.P, 'Pompeo Batoni Francis Basset, poi barone di Dunstanville' opera non in mostra. En:, Pompeo Batoni, 1708-1787 : l' Europa delle Corti e il Grand Tour, Silvana, 2008, pp. 284-285 n.47.

Coltman, Viccy, Classical sculpture and the culture of collecting in Britian..., Oxford University, 2009.

Eliasson, Sabrina Norlander, Portraiture and social identity in eighteenth-century Rome, Manchester University Press, 2009, pp. 90-94.

The English Prize. The capture of the Westmorland and an Episode of The Grand Tour., Yale University Press, 2012, pp. 17-18, 186-187, n. 21.

Sánchez-Jáuregui, Mª Dolores, Pompeo Batoni 'Francis Basset' En:, Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, 2014, pp. 270.

Bowron, Edgar Peters, Pompeo Batoni. A complete catalogue of his paintings, II, Yale University Press, 2015, pp. 541-544 n.422.

Barroero, Liliana, 'Pompeo Batoni. Ritratto di Francis Basset, poi Baroni di Dustanville e I Barone Basset' En:, Grand Tour: Sogno d´Italia da Venezia a Pompei, Edizioni Gallerie d´Italia: Skira,, 2021, pp. 318-319 nº. V.6.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1184.
Battoni / 1184. Retrato de cuerpo entero de un caballero ingles. / Apoya el brazo izquierdo sobre un pedestal, tiene en la mano un plano de Roma, y en la derecha el sombrero y el baston. El fondo es una vista de San Pedro y del castillo del angel de la misma ciudad. / Alto 7 pies, 11 pulg; ancho 5 pies, 7 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1184.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 59.

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. s. n..
Dormitorio de Principes [...] Habitacion del Señor Infante Don Carlos / {21810} tres varas alto dos de ancho retrato de un Mr. Inglés apoyado sobre un pedestal en la vna mano un mapa y en la otra el sombrero y el baston = Pompeo Battoni

Inscriptions +

Signed and dated. Front, lower central area

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in black. Front, center

Exhibitions +

The Grand Tour. The Myth, Vision and Sentiment of Italy
18.11.2021 - 27.03.2022

Meta-painting. A Journey to the Idea of Art
15.11.2016 - 19.02.2017

Italian Masterpieces from Spain's Royal Court. Museo Nacional del Prado
16.05.2014 - 31.08.2014

The English Prize: The Capture of the Westmoreland and an Episode of the Grand Tour
New Haven CT
04.10.2012 - 12.01.2013

The English Prize: The Capture of the Westmoreland and an Episode of the Grand Tour
17.05.2012 - 27.08.2012

Pompeo Batoni: Prince of Painters in Eighteenth Century Rome
20.02.2008 - 18.05.2008

Pompeo Batoni: Prince of Painters in Eighteenth Century Rome
Houston TX
21.10.2007 - 27.01.2008

EL Westmorland: recuerdos del Grand Tour
01.05.2003 - 30.06.2003

EL Westmorland: recuerdos del Grand Tour
01.01.2003 - 31.03.2003

EL Westmorland: recuerdos del Grand Tour
23.11.2002 - 31.12.2002

Update date: 25-04-2022 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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