This charming mid-19th-century portrait by British artist Alfred Hitchens Corbould (1821-1874) depicts a young Lucy Wickham, the daughter of William and Sophia of Binsted Wyck in Hampshire.
Standing within a picturesque wood, probably on the family estate, Miss Wickham at age three. Her white dress is complemented with a light blue ribbon while her summer hat is topped off with a decorative band. She clutches her beloved cat with both hands - somewhat against its will.
Lucy had the world at her feet and little did she know that her life would become one of Brontë-esque proportions - punctuated by drama, love, and the rigours of high society.
Learn more about Lucy’s story in our blog article, The Curious Tale of Young Lucy Wickham.
In 1866, her father commissioned Alfred Hitchens Corbould, who was well-established at the time, to produce this work. Following an exchange of letters, it appears that it was undertaken at the artist’s Tudor-Gothic style home in Kensington ‘Eldon Lodge’.
Letter from Alfred Hitchens Corbould to William Wickham Esquire, June 1866.
I shall be happy to see you on the subject of the picture I shall be painting during this week for the most part at my old studio bottom of Victoria Road called Eldon Lodge which might be more convenient for you otherwise I shall like you to see the sketches I have here.
The Wickhams had a second home in London and would’ve travelled to Kensington by coach. So it begs the question of whether the cat was carried all the way there - with Lucy determined to see it included. Or perhaps it was a studio moggy used tactically by Corbould to encourage patience in the sitter.
A further letter the following year, dated the 3rd of May, describes the artist’s disappointment with the judging panel at the Royal Academy (RA). Seemingly, he’d sent the portrait to the RA for inclusion in its Summer Exhibition.
My Dear Mr Wickham, I have [heard] from Mr Radcliffes and am sorry to hear from that letter the news that the picture of the little girl is not hung. I have written to Dolman and just heard that a great many good pictures completed are not hung this year. I hope you will not be very much disappointed. Will try it on again next year.
Kind regards to Mr Wickham.
This sensitive portrayal captures the abundant love between a father and his daughter. It probably hung alongside other family portraits in one of the sumptuous rooms at Binsted Wyck.
Lucy Wickham’s daughter, Lady Charlotte Bonham-Carter, was a generous philanthropist and a keen supporter of the arts.
Signed/dated lower right and held within its original gilt frame.
Due to the size of this piece, it can only be shipped within the UK.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 46” x 56½” / 117cm x 143cm
Year of creation: 1866
Labels & Inscriptions: Chalk inscription on reverse.
Condition: Artwork presents well. Fine craquelure but the paint is stable. One patched repair. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction maximum: £24,598
Alfred Hitchens Corbould
Alfred Hitchens Corbould was born into a family with a rich artistic heritage and also trained under John Frederick Herring Senior (1795-1865). He exhibited extensively including at the Royal Academy, British Institution and Suffolk Street. His works are held in numerous public collections including the Royal Collection, English Heritage, and the V&A.
Learn more about Alfred Hitchens Corbould in our directory.