From the Austen Family to Siegfried Sassoon - discover the significant aristocratic, cultural & literary connections associated with this fascinating collection of paintings on offer this December in Dreweatts Old Masters, British and European Art auction
Lots 80 – 110 comprise a collection of paintings belonging to the Morland family. Court Lodge is a Georgian manor house in Lamberhurst in Kent and was the family seat of the family from the early 1730s until earlier this year. The paintings are testament to a rich family heritage with notable connections, both aristocratically and culturally, and serve as a historical record of the family’s time at Court Lodge since 1733.
History has shown that the Morland men married well. The first William Morland of Court Lodge married Ellen Johnson, daughter of Sir Thomas Johnson. He was a wealthy merchant and politician, largely attributed with the founding of the modern city of Liverpool. As we go further down the generations, we find other interesting marriages and alliances being formed…
In June 1812, Colonel Charles Morland, grandson of William Morland of Court Lodge, married Lady Caroline Eustatia Courtenay (1775-1851), daughter of Viscount William Courtenay, 8th Earl of Devon and his wife Frances Clack, and one of twelve siblings. At the time of their marriage Charles Morland was Aide-de-Camp to King George IV and a senior rank in the army.
Once again the marriage was an extremely good match for the Morland family, the Courtenays being one of the foremost families of the south west with a substantial estate at Powderham Castle, Devon. The Courtenays had come over to England from France with Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of Henry II in 1152. Two of the paintings in the sale (Lot 92 and Lot 93) are copies of originals held at Powderham and undoubtedly came into the Morland family via Lady Caroline, most probably replicas made on the occasion of her marriage.
The original version of Lot 92 is a painting by Richard Cosway dating from 1798, and is currently held at Powderham Castle, the seat of the Courtenay family, in Devon. It depicts Lady Caroline Courtenay, the future wife of Colonel Charles Morland, along with two of her older sisters, Lucy and Harriet (Caroline is in the centre). Cosway frequently visited Powderham and painted many members of the Courtenay family. William was good friends with the Prince Regent and Cosway was the miniaturist at the Royal Court as well as being originally from Devon.
Richard Clack who painted Lot 92 - affectionately known in the Morland Family as The Three Graces - was undoubtedly a relative of the girls’ mother, Frances Clack. It appears that the vast majority of the men who married into the Courtenay family ended up receiving an allowance or paid employment... and in true family spirit, Colonel Charles Morland, Caroline’s husband, received an amount of £1,000 a year merely for being her husband. In this second version, the original mischievous putti are replaced by a dog which was perhaps seen as more appropriate.
It has long been known in the Morland family that there have been links between their family, and the family of the author Jane Austen. Thomas Morland (1734-1784) and Ann Matson (1745-1808) had a total of eight children, with seven surviving into adulthood, the largest number of children of any generation of Court Lodge Morlands.
Of these seven, at least five married either directly into the Austen family or into families that had significant links to the Austens. The clearest connection comes from the youngest daughter, Margaretta (1777-1825). She married Jane Austen’s second cousin, Colonel Thomas Austen and whilst there is much speculation as to how close the two parts of the family were, it does seem that Jane was at least knowledgeable enough to include a note in one of her letters, “Our cousins Col. Thomas Austen and Margaretta are going Aid-de-Camps to Ireland and Lord Whitworth goes in their train as Lord Lieutenant – good appointments for each” (Jane Austen’s Letters, 4th edition, collected and edited by Dierdre Le Faye, Oxford, 2011, p. 226).
Moving down the generations into the twentieth century, another significant literary figure emerges in the history of Court Lodge. Poet and writer Siegfried Sassoon who is known primarily for his uncompromising depictions of life on the western front during the First World War, was born and lived in Matfield, not far from Lamberhurst. Sassoon’s poetry and comment on the war earned him praise and criticism in equal quantity.
However he is also known for his memoirs, and it is here that the links to Court Lodge become apparent. His trilogy, collectively known as The Complete Memoirs of George Sherston are a fictionalised autobiography describing his early life in Kent. He was well acquainted with Lamberhurst (which he calls ‘Amblehurst’) and with the Morland family which he refers to as the ‘Maundle’ family with ‘Old Squire Maundle’ being William Courtenay Morland, and many more references and anecdotes throughout the books about his time spent in ‘Amblehurst’, and the exploits of the ‘Maundle’ family.
AUCTION DATE & LOCATION
Wednesday 4 December | 10.30am
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
VIEWING IN LONDON:
16-17 Pall Mall, St James's, London SW1Y 5LU
Tuesday 26 November: 10am-8pm
Wednesday 27 November: 10am-5pm
VIEWING AT DONNINGTON PRIORY:
Sunday 1 December: 10am-2pm
Monday 2 December: 9am-5.30pm
Tuesday 3 December: 9am-4.30pm
Day of sale: from 8.30am
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