Painted for the sitter's husband, Alexander Blair, Castle Bromwich, Warwickshire. William Beckett-Denison [1826-1890], Nun Appleton, Yorkshire; by descent to his son, Ernest William Beckett [1856-1917], later 2nd Baron Grimthorpe; (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 23 May 1903, no. 80); purchased by (Charles Sedelmeyer, Sedelmeyer Gallery, Paris); sold to (Eugene Fischhof); purchased 4 April 1907 by P.A.B. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; inheritance from estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park; gift 1942 to NGA.
The medium-weight canvas is twill woven; it has been lined. The ground is white, smoothly applied. The painting is executed in very rich, obvious brushstrokes, thinly in the darks with relatively high impasto especially in the right sleeve; the background layers consist of a dark, cool red over a warmer vermilion. There appear to be some pentimenti in the hat and the papers on the table. There is marked traction crackle in the background, probably caused by the presence of bitumen, which has been infilled and has now discolored; retouching extends over much of the shadows in the arms and hands, and in scattered areas of the background, while the chair is extensively overpainted. The thick natural resin varnish has discolored yellow to a significant degree.
- Ward, Humphry and William Roberts. Romney. 2 vols. London, 1904: 1:111-112, 118-119; 2:13, repro. opp. 14.
- Illustrated Catalogue of the Tenth Series of 100 Paintings by Old Masters of the Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French, and English Schools, being a portion of the Sedelmeyer Gallery.... Paris, 1906: no. 96, repro.
- Hundred Masterpieces. A Selection from the Pictures by Old Masters which form or have formed part of the Sedelmeyer Gallery. Paris, 1914: 206, no.97, repro.
- Roberts, William. Pictures in the Collection of P.A.B. Widener at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania: British and Modern French Schools, Philadelphia, 1915: unpaginated, repro.
- Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1923: unpaginated, repro.
- Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1931: 12, repro.
- Works of Art from the Widener Collection. Foreword by David Finley and John Walker. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1942: 6, as Mrs. Blair.
- Paintings and Sculpture from the Widener Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1948 (reprinted 1959): 88, repro., as Mrs. Blair.
- Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 116, as Mrs. Blair.
- National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 103, repro., as Mrs. Blair.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 308, repro., as Mrs. Blair.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: no. 513, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 355, repro.
- Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 243-245, repro. 244.
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