English, 1753 - 1839

The Shelly Children, John and Charlortte Anne

Date: ca. 1791 - 1792

John and Charlotte Anne Shelly, children of about eight and ten years of age, cavort in a peaceful landscape in this late-eighteenth-century painting. They capture the viewer’s attention with their charming expressions and the vivid juxtaposition of his scarlet suit and her blue sash and ribbons. Unlike many portraits of the time, in this work the sitters interact with each other and not with the viewer. This suggests an affectionate relationship between brother and sister—an impression reinforced by their linked arms.

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Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: H: 26 x W: 20 in.

Accession: 0016

Collection: Julian Wood Glass Jr. Collection

Category: Paintings - Portraits

Tags: Children , Shelly , English

Purchased 1964 from Newhouse Galleries. From the collections of John Shelley, father of the children, Great Yarmouth, England, 1792; John Shelley, the sitter, Great Yarmouth and London, England, 1835; Dr. Charles E. Shelley, grandson of John Shelley, Hertford, England, 1907; the Shelley Family, Hertford, England; and an American collection, U.S.A. Recorded in "Sir William Beechey" by William Roberts, pages 214-215: "...one of the most delightful of Beechey's early pictures of children is the property of Dr. Charles Shelley of Hertford, by whose permission it is reproduced in this book." Recorded in "Sepulchral Reminiscences" by Dawson Turner, page 74: "..The family (Shelley) are in possession of a portrait of him as a boy not more than ten or eleven years of age, walking with his sister. Sir William Beechey, by whom it was painted, told me himself that he regarded it as the best of his works..." Reproduced in "Sir William Beechey" by William Roberts, facing page 218.