Attributed to Jean Laurent Mosnier (French 1743 – 1808), this oil on canvas on the landing of the ballroom staircase depicts the lovely Catherine Manners (Lady Huntingtower) standing beside a Corinthian column in an Italianate landscape with mountains in the distance.
Mosnier was a student at the Académie de St Luc, Paris, where he trained as a miniature painter. In 1776 he was appointed Peintre de la Reine to Marie-Antoinette. He was approved by the Académie Royale in 1786 and received as a full member in 1788.
After the outbreak of the French Revolution, Mosnier fled to London in 1790 and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1791 to 1796. His English portraits make some concession to current English taste. From London Mosnier went to Hamburg, where he stayed four years, and then, in 1801, to St Petersburg, a favorite destination for French émigré artists where Mosnier assumed an influential position.
In 1802 he was accepted into the St Petersburg Academy and was made a professor there in 1806. His portrait sitters included the imperial family. Mosnier was a versatile and prolific portrait painter, capable of modifying his style in accordance with changed geographical circumstances, and using his skill as a trained miniaturist to good effect in his highly polished and detailed full-size portraits.
Catherine Manners (1766 – 1852), the wife of Sir William Tollemache (1766 – 1833), was born Catherine Rebecca Gray of Lehena in County Cork. She was a writer and a poet and published two volumes of poetry and reviews between 1793 and 1799. Sir William Tollemache was born William Manners and was the eldest son of John Manners and Louisa Tollemache, 7th Countess of Dysart. On 12 January 1793, at the age of 26, he was created a Baronet, of Hanley Hall in in the county of Lincoln. On his mother’s succession to the earldom in 1821, he was styled Lord Huntingtower, and adopted the surname of Talmash or Tollemache. A statue of the fifth son of Sir William and Lady Huntingtower, Frederick Tollemache, stands at the West end of St Peter’s Hill. Frederick Tollemache was MP for Grantham from 1826 to 1874.
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