Thomas & Susanna Pattle

Ellen Sharples


Beautifully rendered in pastel, this portrait shows two children on a terrace with a classical stone column overlooking what appears to be the sea on a stormy day. Dressed in a pale blue skeleton suit with a white ruff collar, the boy holds a wooden hoop whilst the girl, holding a book, wears a cornflower blue satin dress trimmed with lace, white pantaloons and blue bootees.

An inscription on the reverse names the children as Thomas and Susanna Pattle. Both children were born out of wedlock to Thomas Pattle and Susannah Wilson. Thomas was born in 1812, Susannah in 1814. Their father who was by then in his sixties, was already married and had fathered several children with his wife. Following her death, he married Thomas and Susannah’s mother. Coming from a pauper background, his new wife was 35 years younger than him.

Young Thomas joined the army in 1834 and saw active service as a Lieutenant with the Dragoon Guards in Afghanistan and China rising steadily through the ranks culminating in promotion to Lieutenant-General in 1877 and a Companion of the Bath nomination for services in China. He married Marian Lucia Maude and with her had a son and a daughter.

At the age of 26, Susanna married George Thomas Thompson, a solicitor and Cinque Ports coroner. No children have been traced and it appears that Susanna was fairly soon widowed. When she died in 1897, her estate was worth a staggering £21,106 equating today to about 3 million pounds!

Pastel on paper set in a period bird’s eye maple frame with a gilt slip. The portrait is in excellent condition; the frame slip has losses.

The daughter of a blacksmith, Ellen Wallas married portrait artist James Sharples as his third wife in 1787. The couple had two children, both of whom also took up painting. Around 1794 the family emigrated to the US where there was a growing demand for portraiture. In 1797 they moved to Philadelphia where Ellen first began to draw portraits professionally. In 1801 the family returned home but in 1809 they re-visited New York where James died in 1811. This prompted Ellen’s return to England where she settled in Bristol with her children. Upon her death in 1849, having been pre-deceased by her daughter, she endowed the Bristol Academy for the Promotion of Fine Arts.

Item Ref. 7359

Size: framed, 308 x 289mm (12 x 11⅜")