Henri- Pierre Danloux
1753 – 1809
The Son of William Robert Feilding, Viscount Feilding (1760-1799) bust-length, in Military Uniform
Henri-Pierre Danloux, an orphan, was raised by his uncle and started his career as a pupil of Jean-Baptiste Lepicié and Joseph Vien. In 1771 he sent to the 'Exposition de la Jeunesse' his first painting representing Un Ivrogne Auprès d'une Table. This was followed in 1773 with portraits of Préville and de Feuille from the Comédie Française. In 1775 he travelled to Italy where he soon came to the notice of Jacques Louis David who was most impressed by the young Danloux, the latter having produced a piercing portrait drawing in pencil of the great master (see de Portalis, p. 12, illus). In 1782 he exhibited a number of works at the 'Exposition de la Blancherie', and in 1791 he was to hang his first picture at the Paris Salon. During these years he moved between Lyon (1783), Rome and Paris (1785 and 1789). Eventually, life in Paris became too dangerous and he was forced to flee to England in 1792 to escape the Revolution.
In England he rapidly gained an enviable reputation, which was established with the exhibition of the Portrait of the Foster Children at the Royal Academy, in 1793. This earned him a number of commissions from British patrons. His commissions took him to Portsmouth in August 1795 and to Scotland in the autumn of 1796 where he painted the portrait of the Comte d'Artois, now in the Fitzwilliam, Cambridge, and the group portrait of the Family of the Duke of Buccleuch (private collection). Many of his works were subsequently engraved by a number of English engravers.
The present portrait remained in the Feilding family until 1938. Traditionally identified as a portrait of Maj.-Gen. Lord William Feilding (1760 – 1799), the young sitter in the present picture is more likely one of Feilding’s sons born out of wedlock with the gregarious Regency courtesan Mrs Huntly. Perhaps thirteen years old, the sitter must have been painted during the period that Danloux was in London 1792 – 1801. Too young to be Viscount Feilding himself, and too old to be Feilding’s son with his wife (the eldest of whom was born in 1796) it seems likely that the boy is one of his mistress’ children referred to in Danloux’s diaries from the time.
‘I find Mrs. Huntly there, still very beautiful, whom I once knew in Paris.’ Danloux wrote in mid-1792 as he renewed his acquaintance with the worldly Mrs Huntly.
May 30, 1792 ‘Mme Huntly having invited me to dine at her house today to talk to me about her portrait…’ Danloux records their conversation: ‘“So, it’s agreed, you will do me and my three children full-length and small, only I warn you that I cannot acquit myself right away.” Nor could Lord Feilding, the children’s father.’
From Danloux’s diary, which is rife with Georgian gossip, it appears that Mrs Huntly was carrying on affairs with several distinguished London gentlemen. ‘After dinner we chat and she tells me the story of her loves with the Abbé de Saint-Far, Charles de Noailles, the Prince of Wales, Lord Feilding, etc…’. Indeed, if Danloux can be believed, Mrs Huntly sought to add the painter to her list of conquests.
The work on Mrs Huntly’s portrait appears to have commenced in early July 1792. A plan for painting the children emerged at the same time, though the capricious Mrs Huntly appears to have had difficulty deciding on exactly what she wanted.
‘She would like to be painted with her children and does not much wish to look like a mother, or, if she consented to it, it would only be for the eldest whom she would rather like to have with her. The second would also please her because he is pretty. As for the little one, whom she finds ugly, she cannot speak to her without upsetting her. We have tried in vain to group the figures, nothing pleases her.’
Several more references to painting the children follow in Danloux’s journal, interspersed with snippets of Georgian gossip (often involving the Prince of Wales) and frequent gasps of exasperation by the painter on the flighty nature of Mrs Huntly. Baron Roger Portalis who compiled Danloux’s journals writes:
‘The painting continued during the months of August and September, without enthusiasm, because of the character of the woman, who poses very badly and pleases him less and less… Danloux, however, found the physiognomy of the eldest son interesting enough to make a separate study of it, which his mother came to see and was delighted with.’ This could perhaps refer to the present painting.
The father, Lord Feilding, was a Major General and later a Colonel in the British Army, and in 1794 raised a regiment of light dragoons. This might explain the military uniform worn by the sitter which appears to be in the style of a local militia or volunteer unit from the 1790s. This was a period when Regency gentlemen were clamouring to have their portraits painted in sumptuous military uniforms, and many young men would pay even more to have bespoke uniforms designed and tailored to their personal specifications. It seems natural that Mrs Huntly would want to have her son’s portrait painted in this manner, both to appear dashing, and to remind Lord Feilding of her son’s parentage.
Viscount Feilding, Newnham Paddox, Rugby, Warwickshire, and by descent until,
Rudolph Edmund Aloysius Feilding, Viscount Feilding (1885-1937); his sale,
Christie's, London, 1 July 1938, lot 62, as Hone (240 gns. to Waters).
W.E. Browne, Atlanta, Georgia, acquired in May 1968 by the following,
Private collection, Ponte Vedra, Florida.