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George Read, Appraiser

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Mercier signature on Goddess of Verse painting Mercier name plate on Goddess of Verse painting Gilt Frame on Mercier's Goddess of Verse painting


Philip Mercier, French (1689-1760)

Asking Price: $30,000.00

oil on canvas, signed Ph. Mercier fecit 1740 lower left, 64 x 60 inches, in a gilded frame contemporary to the painting.

One of a set of three paintings commissioned by Thomas Osborne, 4th Duke of Leeds (1713-1789) for Hornby Castle, Yorkshire. The set included The Goddess of Love, The Goddess of Painting, and the present work. These paintings are included in Ingamells and Raines Catalogue of paintings and portraits at Hornby Castle, 1868, no.221, p.52). The authors date the set to 1740, which conforms to Mercier’s annotation at the lower left of the canvas.

The paintings appeared at an Anonymous sale, Foster's, London, 14 July 1909, lot 112; and later, the other two paintings appeared at an Anonymous sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 25-26 January 1963 as lot 271-272. The Goddess of Love is recorded in the collection of Anne Miller, Los Angeles, CA. It is not known whether her ownership included the Goddess of Painting as well.

J. Ingamells and R. Raines, Catalogue of Paintings and Portraits at Hornby Castle, 1903.
J. Ingamells and R. Raines, 'Philippe Mercier', The Walpole Society, XLVI, 1978, as “location unknown”.

Of French Hugenot origin, Mercier was born and trained in Berlin before moving to London in around 1716. He established himself as a painter of conversation pieces and portraits at the Hanoverian court and c.1737-39 turned to executing 'fancy pictures', mainly of single figures which owe something to Chardin. He settled at York, 1739-51, where he painted portraits of the Yorkshire gentry as well as selling “fancy” pictures. As an engraver (and perhaps forger) of Watteau he was instrumental in introducing French taste into English art.