The Berger Collection


Andrea Soldi (ca 1703-1771)
Thomas Sheppard, 1733
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated
53 1/2 x 39 1/2 in. (135.9 x 100.3 cm)

Andrea Soldi began his career as a portrait painter working for British merchants in Turkey. Many of these merchants were exiled Jacobites, Catholic supporters of the deposed Stuart king, James II, and his descendants, who had been forced to leave Britain after a failed rebellion in 1715. One such exile was Thomas Sheppard (d. 1757), a notorious Scottish Jacobite who had fought in the 1715 rebellion. Like many other Jacobites, Sheppard was putting his political exile to good use, making money by trading English woolens for Eastern goods such as silk, spices, and rugs. He was later to return to Britain to fight under the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, in the second failed Jacobite rebellion in 1745.

Soldi painted Sheppard twice, first in 1733 (this painting) and again in 1735. The artist's Catholic and Jacobite patrons had, for obvious reasons, a taste for the Italianate, as can be seen in Sheppard's portrait. Bewigged and extravagantly dressed in embroidered coat and silk waistcoat, with his well-fed chin and jowls and his mustache, Sheppard evidently wanted to be depicted as a flamboyant and ostentatious cavalier from a bygone age. Not all of Soldi's "turkey merchants" were Jacobites, however, and the younger sons of English gentry in Turkey were fond of being portrayed as pashas, wearing Turkish costume.


Provenance

With Dowdeswell & Dowdeswell, London, ca. 1917; private collection, U.K.; Hall & Knight, London

Bibliography

Literature: J. Ingamells, "Andrea Soldi; Part 1, 1735-1744: Merit and Idle Vanitys, "The Connoisseur, Vol. 185, March 1974, p. 192, fig. 2; J. Ingamells, "Andrea Soldi: A Checklist of His Work," Walpole Society, Vol. XLVII, 1979-80, no. 58, p. 15

Related work: Another portrait of Thomas Sheppard by Soldi, signed and dated 1735/36, sold Robinson & Fishers, London, March 20, 1924, lot 112


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