Portrait of Samuel de Wilde (1748-1832), artist unknown
Mr Olivier Mertens of The Hague is seeking assistance in identifying the artist of this portrait of Samuel de Wilde (1748-1832).
‘The present painting, which is in very good condition, is painted (in oil) on a metal oval (height approximately 10 inches) and is neither signed nor dated. Nevertheless, the identity of the sitter is known: between the cardboard, closing off the back of the frame, and the painting itself, I found a small note with the text: “Portrait of Mr. Samuel de Wild”. This has to be Samuel de Wilde (1748-1832), a well-known London artist (with a father of Dutch descend). On the closing itself, a piece of paper (cut out of a larger document) has been laid down on cardboard with text written in English where the name “Mr. Wilde” can be read. A portrait, painted circa 1870 by Samuel’s grandson Silvan de Wilde (after an original portrait, now considered lost) is known. When that posthumous 19th century portrait is compared to this 18th century portrait, it’s clear it concerns one and the same person. (Christie’s sold a self-portrait by De Wilde, a drawing or watercolour, on July 24, 1984, lot 79; an image of this portrait is unknown to me).
Could this be a self-portrait by De Wilde? To me, the pose of Samuel doesn’t seem typical for a self-portrait. Maybe a pupil or befriended artist could be the author of this fine portrait, but it appears De Wilde did not have real apprentices. The circle of John Downman (1750-1824) has been tentatively suggested. I have been in touch with two descendants of Samuel de Wilde. One of them sent me a photo of part of a page of the diary of De Wilde from 1810; his handwriting and that on the paper on the back of the frame seems to match quite perfectly, so the portrait might even have been framed by De Wilde himself’
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