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Zoomable Image of Portrait of a Gentleman, probably Master Job Harby, from The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers

Portrait of a Gentleman, probably Master Job Harby, from The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers

Circle of Edward Cocke (active c.1640)

Portrait of a Gentleman, probably Master Job Harby, from The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers

Circle of Edward Cocke (active c.1640)

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Price:

Reserved

Materials:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

32 43/64 x 24 51/64 in (83 x 63 cm)

Inscriptions:

Inscribed top left: ‘Ætatis: Suae: 56/ A:1644’ with the coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers in the top right corner

This portrait was originally thought to depict Thomas Thorold, but recent research reveals the most likely candidate is Sir Job Harby of Aldenham in Hertfordshire...

We are grateful to John Tunesi of Beacon Genealogical and Heraldic Research for his help in cataloguing this piece.

This captivating portrait from 1644 depicts a member of The Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, possibly Sir Job Harby (or Harvy), Knight of London, who was a merchant and one of the commissioners for customs in the capital; he was a Master of the Ironmongers Guild from 1643 to 1644 when this portrait was painted.

The Ironmongers were originally known as Ferroners when they took action against the Wealds of Kent and Sussex in 1300, to dispute the quality of iron in the wheels of carts in London. Twenty years later they were considered a brotherhood and in 1455 they received a grant of arms, describing them as the ‘Honourable Crafte and Fellasship of Fraunchised Men of Iromongers.’ These arms, as depicted in the top right hand corner of this portrait, with its accompanying crest, can be described as ‘argent on a chevron gules between three gads of steel azure three swivels or’, and was granted by William Tyndale, Lancaster King of Arms. The supporters, which were later incorporated into this arms design in 1923 by Sir Henry Farnham Burke, are salamanders and were animals traditionally believed to be able to survive fire or the hot furnaces.

The Ironmongers’ Company is tenth of precedence and is included as one of the Great Twelve Livery Companies of London; its charter of incorporation was given by Edward IV in 1463 and was reconfirmed over the centuries by several monarchs. At around the time this portrait was painted, the Company was experiencing some financial difficulties as they were ordered to supply and lend arms to the Earl of Essex in 1642 and then were in debt by £500, the result of Robert Haisler ‘mixing the Company’s funds with his own,’ in 1644.[1]

This portrait was originally thought to depict Thomas Thorold, Master of the Company in 1634 and then again in 1644 and 1645, however, a portrait of Thorold painted seven years before this work by Cornelius Johnson, supposedly shows him with a white beard.[2] Instead the most likely candidate is Sir Job Harby of Aldenham, who is thought to have been born in 1589 in Adstone, Northamptonshire, which would make him 55 years of age, the same age as our sitter (‘aetatis suae 56’, which can be translated to ‘in his 56th year’) in 1644.[3] Harby married Elizabeth Wyche in London in 1616 and together had five children including Erasmus, Harby’s only male heir.[4] The gentleman in this portrait is shown wearing a black cloak with a large white collar, holding a pair of leather gloves with detailed silver jewellery around his neck.[5] In 1642 Sir Job Harby purchased the estate of Aldenham in Hertfordshire from Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland.[6] This, combined with the end of Harby’s role as Master of the Ironmongers’ Company, could have been the reason for commissioning this portrait.

It is highly likely that the artist of this portrait is Edward Cocke (or ‘Cook’) who is known to have painted portraits of associated members of the Ironmongers’ Company, including Thomas Mychell and Thomas Lewen and possibly those of Thomas Hallwood and Sir James Cambell, all still on display at the Ironmongers’ Hall and attributed to Henry Cook.[7] Over the years there has been considerable confusion as to the identity of Henry Cook and Edward Cook and it is now believed that Henry Cook was a later painter, almost certainly the son of Edward Cocke who was commissioned to produce portraits of the Ironmongers in 1640. Henry Cook was born in c.1642, he studied under Salvator Rosa and Theodore Russel and is considered a decorative painter, on account of his large wall pieces, such as that at the New River Company in Islington; Henry died in 1700.


References

[1]E. Glover, A History of the Ironmongers’ Company, (London, 1991) pp.65-66.

[2]Council of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, A Catalogue of the Antiquities and Works of Art Exhibited at Ironmongers’ Hall, London in the Month of May 1861, (London, 1869), p.230; R. Tittler, The Face of the City, (Manchester, 2007) p.56.

[3]H.J. Jackson, The Visitation of London, Anno Domine 1633, 1634, and 1635 vol 1, (London, 1880), p.346; Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, of the Reign of Charles II, 1660-1685, (London, 1907), p.2; C.W. Throckmorton, A Genealogical and Historical Account of the Throckmorton Family in England and the United States, (Richmond, Virginia, 1930), p. 166; H. St. George, The Visitation of the County of Northampton in the Year 1681, (London, 1935) p. 85; Selected Families and Individuals,Roots web, ancestry.com community.

[4]J. Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England,(London, 1841) p.242.

[5]The Company of Glovers merged with the Pursers company in 1501 but became independent again in 1638 with a grant from Charles I.

[6]J. Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England,(London, 1841) p.242.

[7]Guildhall Manuscripts 16967 (4) 29 April 1640; J. Nicholl, Some Account of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, (London, 1851) p.453.


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