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Eric Roberts

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  1. Back on topic, I recently came across an article by Ella Horsey (BACONIANA Vol. XXXV No. 140 July 1951) that not only challenges the view that Francis's marriage was a failure, but argues that his wife may have played a central role in the feigning of his own death. My apologies to anyone who has already read the article, but for those who haven't, like myself, it is interesting to hear a cogent interpretation of Francis Bacon's marriage to Alice Barnham written by a female Baconian. It presents his intimate life, not as a failure due to his neglect and Alice's capriciousness, but in a much more positive light. ALICE BARNHAM by Ella Horsey .pdf
  2. I was wrong. The FBS archive is housed in the Senate House Library after all: https://encore.libraries.london.ac.uk/iii/encore/search/C__SFrancis Bacon society__Orightresult__X0?lang=eng&suite=cobalt No sign of the copy of the picture by van Somer I'm looking for, but I did find a better image of the Senate House portrait on the Art.UK site.
  3. Still in search of the lost portrait of Sir Francis by Paul van Somer which once belonged to author, Baconian and psychic, Ella Horsey. No reply as yet from either Gov.UK regarding her will and probate documents or from Art.UK's senior art detective, Bendor Grosvenor. Meanwhile, I'm reading one of her two books - "A Chant of Pleasant Exploration" (1962) in which she elaborates on her discovery of the portrait. See earlier post. She mentions that the portrait "is one of my most precious possessions" which suggests that she would have retained it until she died in 1982. Today, I found a review of the book I'm reading in Baconiana No. 163, 1963. It mentions that she had a copy of the van Somer portrait made which she donated to the Francis Bacon Society. The copy, either a photograph or an oil painting, was on display in the office of the FBS at Canonbury Tower in Islington. This is odd because according to Wikipedia, the Society's occupancy at Canonbury ended in 1940. The book review written in 1963 (see below) states that the Society was still there over twenty years later. I wonder if Ella Horsey, who was born in Islington in 1885 and lived there until she was in her mid-teens, was aware that Francis Bacon held the lease of Canonbury between 1616-1625 and that very probably he was responsible for planting the ancient mulberry tree that still survives in the hidden courtyard. https://www.moruslondinium.org/research/canonbury-heritage-mulberry I also wonder where the reproduction of Ella's purportedly original van Somer portrait of Francis is today... the FBS archives would seem the best bet, but where are they located? Not in the Senate House Library apparently. Does anyone know the current whereabouts of the Society's famous collection of books, MS and artefacts? Please help if you can.
  4. Thanks for posting this chapter from Jean Overton Fuller's book. I have put off buying the book for some time, but there is a lot here to reckon with re: the portraits.
  5. Were he still of this world, Sir Francis would compose a most elegant and meaningful letter of thanks to you both.
  6. Brief Update: Missing FB Portrait, Possibly by Van Somer 1. Emailed Bendor Grosvenor who is an expert in 16th & 17th Century portraits and a group leader on the Art UK website. Sent him the attachment below asking for any advice about how to trace Ella Horsey’s picture. 2. Emailed the Findhorn Foundation on their Isle of Erraid website to request a photo of a portrait of Ella Horsey. She wrote a book about her experiences on Erraid called “Seven Years on a Scottish Islet” published in 1967 about her life as a reclusive writer on the island from 1952 – 1959 when she was in her seventies. She also wrote another book titled “A Chant of Pleasant Exploration” (1962) about living with the grief of losing loved ones. 3. Have tried to access her will and probate records on Gov.UK without success. Nothing comes up. I have written to archivists for assistance in locating her files. LOST PORTRAIT OF SIR FRANCIS BACON BY PAUL VAN SOMER I.pdf
  7. I didn't mean to be flippant - this is a very powerful piece of graphic design. And this entire website truly deserves an international design award. I can't believe how much attention to detail has gone into its construction. Everything works beautifully. Thank you Rob. You're a genius!
  8. My suggestion (addressed to Shaksper): “Heaven truly knows that thou art false as hell” (Othello, Act 4, Sc. 2)
  9. Love the idea of a giant billboard!!! Needs a caption, though - or a thought bubble. Why don't we move it to the anti-stratfordian cartoon competition topic and invite suggestions? No prizes - only fun...
  10. Thanks for the question but I'm no expert when it comes to the techniques of Elizabethan portraiture. However, Sir Roy Strong, former director of the NPG, gives us a few insights in the introduction to "Tudor and Jacobean Portraits", Vol. 1, 1969. Here is a short extract:
  11. I see what you're getting at. The close resemblance between these two 'mystery' portraits of Francis is undeniable. The red picture is in the Royal Lazienki Museum in Warsaw. https://www.lazienki-krolewskie.pl/en/katalog/obiekty/lkr-896. What is unusual about this "early copy" (1620-22) is the tight framing of the figure, just like the portrait which belonged to Ella Horsey. Could it be that her's was an original variation by van Somer on which the red portrait was based? There are one or two small discrepancies, e.g. the spacing between the buttons on the right shoulder, the white tassel hanging from the ruff in Ella's picture, and the ruff itself, but the faces do seem to line up. Thank you so much for the video! Intriguing.
  12. Thanks so much for the suggestion of contacting Graham Cameron. I've looked up his impressive credentials. I'm just a little wary of someone who claims that the Mona Lisa was based on Leonardo's mother. But we definitely need an art detective willing to take on the search for Ella's missing portrait. I've managed to find out more about her, thanks to Ancestry, including a reference number which I think pertains to her Will or probate records. I'm going to attempt a Wills search on Gov.UK.
  13. I should have said at the end of my letter that "if the painting is authentic" it must date from 1618-21. You may well still be right. Only if and when the picture is found and put before qualified art historians can it be definitively identified, either as a copy or a genuine van Somer. The problem is: what did Ella do with it? And who has it now? I emailed Susan McIlroy about the portrait the other day, but it seems that she knows nothing about it. The FBS must have a record of Ella Horsey somewhere in their archives. If we had an address it might be possible to find out who she left her estate to. Presumably, someone has the picture in their private collection and is keeping quiet about it - a pity as we're talking about a work potentially of international significance.
  14. Having a little trouble uploading. Hope you can read the PDF letter to you I've attached. It doesn't address your concerns with the quality of the painting which I need to think more about and get back to you later on. Thanks so much for your interest. Ella's Portrait.pdf Ella's Portrait.pdf
  15. As intriguing and attractive as this portrait of a young Elizabethan gentleman is, when placed beside the unquestionably authentic portrait of Francis aged 17-18, for me at least, the only conclusion is that they are not of the same person. Domage!
  16. OMG! You've opened Pandora's box. Maybe this could be a topic on its own - so much has been written, most of it tripe as far as I can see, about these pseudo-portraits. IMO the only approximate genuine portrait we have is the Dugdale sketch (attached). James Phinney Baxter did an excellent demolition job of the fake portraits in "The Greatest of the Literary Problems" (1917), as I'm sure you know. In recent times, the Chandos portrait has been heavily promoted, especially by the NPG, as the most likely "authentic" image we have of W.S. But even Dr Tarnya Cooper, the NPG's curatorial director and author of "Searching for Shakespeare" says there is no way of proving that the picture is actually of W.S. The centrepiece of a major exhibition currently at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra is the Chandos portrait, which was described in a review in the Canberra Times: The so-called Shakespeare portrait, the Chandos portrait, is possibly not by John Taylor and quite possibly not of the great bard. The literature on it is extensive, but inconclusive, and the strongest evidence is its resemblance to the engraved portrait on the title page of the Folio edition of Shakespeare. Enough said.
  17. I agree with you - they are not the same picture, but they ARE very alike. The composition within the frame is virtually identical. Well spotted. Another detail that only these two portraits have in common is the tassel which hangs down from the lace ruff. However there are lots of differences, most notably the face and the design of the ruff. A closer resemblance is with the full length Gorhambury portrait, but here too there are subtle differences - the silhouette of the hat, the hair, ruff and the folds of the background curtain. Unfortunately, the copy published in Baconiana is so degraded that analysing the two pictures more closely is difficult. Generally though, we can certainly say that the face in the mystery picture conforms with the three recognised portraits of Francis by Paul van Somer. To be continued....
  18. BACONIANA 33 No. 131 April 1949, pages 70-71 Written 73 years ago, this article refers to a portrait of Francis Bacon by Paul van Somer, the location of which is currently unknown. It appears to be genuine, having been authenticated by the National Portrait Gallery. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to go about tracing the whereabouts of this potentially priceless picture, please don't hesitate to leave your comments below.
  19. The image didn't upload as large as I thought it would, so here is a link to Wikimedia's 5 MB copy so you can see it in all its glorious detail. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elizabeth_I_Steven_Van_Der_Meulen.jpg
  20. I think I may have stumbled upon the "Virgin Queen of the Carnation" picture you were looking for. As I was trying to find out more about the Elizabethan fashion of slashed sleeves (https://blog.bridgemanimages.com/blog/cutting-edge-fashion-the-slashed-sleeve-in-early-modern-europe) I came across the 1563 portrait of Elizabeth known as The Hampden Portrait. She is holding a carnation in her right hand and another blossom is pinned to her left shoulder. There are more carnations in the garden behind her. A description of the painting states that it is: attributed to the Dutch artist Steven van der Meulen; the only image of the 'Virgin Queen' that alludes to her becoming a wife and mother; holding a carnation alludes to Elizabeth being the Handmaid of God and the Queen of Heaven (England) and is a symbol of love; armillary sphere hanging from waist symbolises harmony; foliage and flowers indicate the fertility of the queen. The gown she is wearing also has slashed sleeves, like the 1562 portrait and the picture of Francis as an infant.
  21. "The portrait of the young Francis Bacon was commissioned by his true mother, the Queen Elizabeth Tudor !" Fascinating. I'd always assumed that the portrait of Francis as a baby must have been commissioned by Lord and Lady Bacon. Your reference to the 1562 portrait of Elizabeth wearing a very similar garment to the one worn by Francis in his 1562 portrait makes me think you could be right. If as you suggest the Queen did commission the portrait of Francis she may have also stipulated the inclusion of the dual pendants, the apple, the position of the hands and perhaps had a garment similar to her own made for her secret love child. If there are any Elizabethan costume experts out there, it would be helpful to know more about the style of outer garment that both sitters are wearing. It appears to consist of an inner layer of wool coming through slits made in the outer layer of fabric, possibly silk.
  22. Here is an image of a painting of Francis sent to me by the Curator of Rare Books and University Art at the Senate House Library, University of London. The only information she could give me was as follows: "The portrait is one of a pair of portraits of the 17th-century English school; the other portrait is of Thomas Egerton, Baron Ellesmere and Viscount Brackley. The portraits were purchased 1965 from Christie, Manson and Woods, for 18 guineas, through the good offices of the National Portrait Gallery." So it is undated and the artist is unknown. As you can see, the faces in these two portraits are much the same, although the ruff is different.
  23. Hi Kate. Thank you for the welcome, and thanks also for this enchanting hand-stitched portrait of FB. There is a naivety in the face, but also reverence... almost saintliness. How endearing - a shrine to the author on the cover of one of his books.
  24. This reputed portrait of Francis had also escaped my attention. A few observations: (1) the description "in the manner of Paul van Somer" seems gratuitous as it in no way resembles the work of that artist; (2) the hat is unlike any of Francis's hats in the other portraits; (3) the purse of the Lord Keeper's Seal is different to the one that appears in several of the portraits in the gallery on this site (see attached); (4) none of the other portraits show Francis with a greying beard; (5) the style of ruff resembles the one Francis is wearing in the 1578 Hilliard miniature, but is unlike those in any of the later portraits; (6) the medallion appears to be blank; (7) facially, there is a passing resemblance to the other portraits, but the mouth is wrong. Nevertheless, it would be wonderful to know when the picture was painted and by whom. Thanks so much for posting!
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