This unfinished double portrait by Landseer is an exciting rediscovery. It depicts the Hon. Mary Isabella 'Bella' Carington (1824-1840) and her younger sister, the Hon. Cecile Katherine Mary Carington (1829-79), who, in 1853, married Charles John Colville, 1st Viscount Colville of Culross. They were the daughters of Robert John Carington, 2nd Baron Carrington of Upton (1796-1878) and his first wife Elizabeth Katherine Forester (1803-1832).
The painting was one of many by the artist purchased by Agnew’s at Landseer’s studio sale in these Rooms, the present painting being found under number 8699 in Agnew’s stock book. The same entry reveals it was soon after sold to Henry William Eaton, 1st Baron Cheylesmore (1816-1891), a British businessman and Conservative politician, whose collection boasted a significant number of works by Landseer, notably The Monarch of the Glen.
Whilst in the Cheylesmore collection, Algernon Graves noted in his catalogue of Landseer’s works that it ‘contained a good deal of empty canvas, and has since been cut, the children now forming one picture, and a favourite brown and white spaniel looking into a glass, a separate one’ (Graves, loc. cit.). The dog, listed by Graves as Little Doggie and Looking Glass, is believed to have been cut down from the right-hand section of our painting, and was sold in these Rooms on 19 May 1978 (lot 221) with Graves’s title.
When Cheylesmore’s own collection went for sale at Christie’s in May of 1892, thirty-one of the eighty-six lots were by Landseer; many of them had been bought at his studio sale in 1874. Tantalisingly this painting was not one of them, and had therefore either already been sold, or inherited by his descendants.
We are grateful to Richard Ormond for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.