The face of our star of the 18th century English landscape movement, our good old Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, would I’d have thought been painted, sketched, imprinted and etched on all manner of objects – silverware, book papers, and of course canvas; but I am of course wrong.
Many of those wonderful places that Brown landscaped have been painted and recorded, yet surprisingly Brown himself appears in but a handful of images. Mind you, he must have been on the move almost constantly, and could by and large have preferred the attention to be focused on his work – indeed a quality painting of a landscape would carry far more weight with prospective clients!
These days of course in addition to those landscapes, many people are interested in Brown himself – how did he dress, how did he present himself and so on. In those few available images, and an internet search will reveal most all of them, he appears almost entirely in the same pose, but of course there may be a few portraits yet to surface – do you know of an image like the ones on this page?
Two of the portraits featured on this post are by Nathaniel Dance, and are held by the National Portrait Gallery, London. It is to their credit that good quality portraits of our national treasure are preserved for research and enjoyment, and I’m indebted to their system for making the images available under the creative commons licence. Further information about the portraits can be reached by clicking on the link below each image – there’s also purchase/donation information, which ultimately helps in the presentation and preservation of portraits like these.
I find the portraits of Lancelot fascinating, so full of character and experience. But, what exactly was he trying to portray with his pose and very knowing look? It would be fascinating to understand your personal interpretation of these images – so please take a little time to look closer, and record some thoughts on the comments section – you might see something others can’t!