Auction 109 The Count of Póvoa Collection - Quinta da Serra


A portrait of King Pedro IV of Portugal

John Simpson Atribb. (1782-1847)


2.000 - 3.000

Session 1

28 September 2021


Oil on canvas
c. 1834

78x63 cm




Painter John Simpson was born in the city of London in the year 1782 and was a student at the Royal Academy and for a few years was an assistant to Sir Thomas Lawrence, eventually achieving some success as a portraitist. Late-nineteenth-century biographer Sidney Lee suggests to us that Simpson was "more a skilled portraitist than an artist and that his portraits were not without force but lacked in instinct and penetration." In 1807 he began to exhibit regularly at the Royal Academy and continued to do so until his death at Carlisle House, Soho, in the year of 1847. In 1830, he painted the portrait of King D. Pedro IV (1798-1834), halflength, three-quarters, in pose on the left. The King appears in the uniform of Generalissimo and bears the band of the Four Orders (Christ, Avis, Torre and Espada and Santiago) and the respective commendation, as well as the Commendation of the Military Order of Nossa Senhora da Conceição de Vila Viçosa and the insignia of Fleece of Gold. With his right arm advanced, he holds the bicorne, while his left hand rests on the hilt of the sword suspended in his belt. His face is framed by a short beard and wild hair, whose glassy look accentuates the serious character of his personality. The background, in dark brown, is tinted with red and yellow in the lower half of the screen, accentuating the lighting effects. This painting, which is part of the collection of the National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon (Inv. No. 361), and which can be seen at the National Coach Museum, was donated by the Queen of Sweden and Norway, D. Josefina de Leuchtenberg ((sister and heiress of Amélia de Leuchtenberg, Empress of Brazil and widow of King D. Pedro IV of Portugal). The Art Historian Herstal, to whom we owe the most exhaustive comparative study of the various portraits of D. Pedro IV, claims that twelve canvases with this same design were found, attributed by different sources to different authors: Simpson, Gant, Steegman and João Baptista Ribeiro. Of all, the only one that belongs to the MNAA is signed by John Simpson. The same author compares it with the others and states that “what is most similar in its technique to that of John Simpson is the painting from the National Museum of Soares dos Reis” and that, although it is a susceptible idea, “it cannot be categorically eliminated the possibility of being a replica, executed by the same artist”. Of variable plastic quality, the similarity in the figuration of the portraits indicates a unique model of which the painting we are now bringing up to auction is another example. John Simpson, also painted, in 1834, the young Queen D. Maria II, daughter of D. Pedro IV. In this portrait, which is part of the National Coach Museum collection, we find formal and stylistic similarities with the portrait of the 1st Duchess of Palmela, D. Eugénia Telles da Gama, also painted by Simpson and part of the Casa de Bragança Foundation collections (Inv. No. 2877).


Bibliografia: AA.VV. - Exposição D. Pedro de Alcântara de Bragança (1798-1834). Queluz: 1987. AA.VV. - Portugal e o Reino Unido - A Aliança Revisitada. Lisboa: Fund. Calouste Gulbenkian, 1994, p. 250-251. AA.VV. – Exposição A Vida Castrense e as Artes. Figueira da Foz: 1979, p. 33. Catá E. Soares; H. F. de Lima – Retratos de Portugueses e de Estrangeiros em Relações com Portugal, Dicionário de Iconografia Portuguesa, 5º vol. Lisboa: Instituto para a Alta Cultura, 1960, p. 457 Ó. Paxeco – O Palácio de Queluz na História do Brasil in Diáro da Manhã. Lisboa: 24 de Abril de 1955, pág. - PINTO, A. C. Pinto – Museu Nacional dos Coches - Guia do Visitante (Ilustrada). Lisboa: 1948, pág. 39

Closed Auction