Priscilla, Edward and Catherine Bell in 1774

In the English Country House Gallery of Norwich Castle is a portrait of Priscilla, Edward and Catherine painted by Francis Wheatley c1774.

The link to the pictures in this gallery is here

Click on the image for more information.

Priscilla is seated on the right and would have been about 23 years old. In the centre is her sister Catherine, later wife of John Gurney and mother of Elizabeth Fry.

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Published in: on June 21, 2009 at 2:41 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I had only seen this picture as a black and white illustration in Irma O’Connor’s biography of Edward Gibbon Wakefield (O’Connor is a descendant). She attributes it to Gainsborough and probably painted about 1775. The black and white however is an injustice to the beautiful colours of the clothing worn by Edward and Priscilla. The radiant peacock blue of Edward’s jacket and the mauve of Priscilla’s dress are spectacular. And underline the fact that Priscilla was not a plain Friend. The colour of the dress happily and unexpectedly matches the colour scheme of this blog.

  2. I’m intrigued by the supposed date of 1774 – Priscilla had at least one child and possibly two by then – where are they? The grouping is interesting too: the two woment together, Edward off to one side. Wheatley became a court painter and though this is early in his career he would not have been cheap to comission. So what is it celebrating? If we ignore the date, perhaps it is for their impending marriage? Why is a very young-looking Catherine in it?

  3. I have now been to the Norwich Castle Gallery and stood in front of this lovely painting. The gallery dates it as 1778 and speculates that Catherine is smiling about her impending marriage. I don’t agree – by that time there were three children and the first of Edward’s big money losses was imminent.
    I think it might earlier even than 1774 – they married in 1771, so I do wonder if it was to celebrate that?


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