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Portrait Detectives

Extra Information on 'Sir Thomas Lucy and His Family'

The Lucy FamilyAbout The Painting

This painting is in oil on canvas, and was copied in around 1745. The larger original (dated 1625) may itself be a copy of an earlier version that was destroyed. It is thought that the Walker's copy was made for one of the daughters in the painting, Bridget. She was married and would have taken this painting with her when she moved to her husband's house, Croxteth Hall, Liverpool. This painting was bequeathed (left in a will) to the Walker, Liverpool in 1980 by the Countess of Sefton. The 'original' still hangs at Charlecote Park in Warwickshire, the ancestral home of the Lucy family.

What Does The Portrait Show?

The painting shows Sir Thomas and his wife, Alice, with seven of their children (they eventually had thirteen). The two boys at the front of the painting are wearing skirts (petticoats). This was usual for the time when boys were not 'breeched' until they were aged between five and seven. We can tell that they are boys because their bodices (top of their dress) are like their father's doublet (his short, tight jacket), not like their mother's dress. The baby at the back of the picture could be either a boy or girl. It could be a girl but 'her' clothes are made from the same material as her brothers' clothes suggesting that she is a boy, so no one is sure. The eldest boy on the left, Spencer Lucy, is probably between 10 and 13 years of age. At the time boys of this age were dressed as young adults rather than as children.

The faces of the family would have been painted from individual studies. The clothing would probably have been arranged on a dummy or another stand-in figure. This would have meant that the family, and in particular the children, would not have had to sit for any length of time. The composition (the way the people and objects are positioned) is very different to the portrait of the Young family that is also covered in this unit. Compare them. Where are the differences?

Who Was The Artist?

During the 17th century artists from Belgium and Holland were very popular in England. Cornelius Johnson, the artist of the original painting from which this was copied, was born in England but had Dutch parents (he was originally called Cornelius Jonson van Ceulen). It is thought that he trained in Holland, came to England for a time, before returning to Holland in 1643 and working there until his death in 1661.

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