Trio of Family Portraits

Stephen Catterson Smith


This is a rare opportunity to acquire a family group of three well-drawn portraits that have miraculously remained together for almost two centuries. The portraits depict: Harriet White, elegantly dressed and sporting an eye-catching hat trimmed with ostrich feathers; her two sons, John and William, nonchalantly lounging under a tree; and, her two daughters, Harriet and Grace Eleanor, both fashionably dressed with Grace holding some sheet music.

Born around 1787, Harriet Upton was the only child of a Yeovil solicitor. In May 1815, at the age of 28, she married John White as his second wife. The couple had four children: John (b.1816), Grace Eleanor (b.1817), Harriet (b.1818) and William (b.1819). The family home was at Up Cerne Manor in Dorset with a second property at Newport, Isle of Wight.

The portraits are drawn on paper in black crayon heightened with coloured chalk in the distinctive style associated with Stephen Catterson Smith. The portrait of Harriet is in fine condition; the portrait of the girls has scattered light spotting; the portrait of the boys has some brown shadow lines – all visible on the images. The portraits are presented in handsome bird’s eye maple frames with gilt slips.

Born in Yorkshire in 1806, Stephen Catterson Smith won prizes whilst studying at the Royal Academy. He moved to Ireland in 1840 where he ran a successful and popular portrait studio. Many of his portraits were subsequently engraved. Catterson Smith served as President of the Royal Hibernian Academy and was appointed director of the National Gallery of Ireland from 1868. His chalk sketch of Queen Victoria is in the Royal Collection.

Item Ref. 6073

Size: framed, 340 x 294mm (13⅜ x 11½") and smaller

Provenance: Sold from Upcerne Manor in 1933