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Zoomable Image of Portrait miniature of Mrs. Elizabeth Theobald (c.1725-96), wearing grey dress with white lace trim and a white bonnet

Portrait miniature of Mrs. Elizabeth Theobald (c.1725-96), wearing grey dress with white lace trim and a white bonnet

Jeremiah Meyer R.A. (1735-89)

Portrait miniature of Mrs. Elizabeth Theobald (c.1725-96), wearing grey dress with white lace trim and a white bonnet

Jeremiah Meyer R.A. (1735-89)

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Phone +44(0)20 7499 6818

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Price:

£2,200

Materials:

Watercolour on ivory

Dimensions:

Oval, 2 3/4 in (70 mm) high

Inscriptions:

The reverse inscribed, ‘E Theobald Died 9 November 1796 aged 71’

Frame:

Engine-turned gold locket frame with hinged lid

'She was an eminent Pattern of Christian Principles, Temper & Conduct. She possessed an affluent Fortune which she enjoyed with wisdom & dignity and distributed with Charity & beneficence, Thus humbly providing an Inheritance in Heaven…'

The ‘Mrs. Theobald’ portrayed in this striking portrait by Jeremiah Meyer was Elizabeth (or Eliza), wife of Peter Theobald (1694-1778), a philanthropist. From 1765, they lived at the north side of Kew Green (at Hanover House[1], latterly ‘Hunter House’ and now Kew Garden’s Herbarium), near Kew Gardens and owned both this early Georgian property and the house previously owned by Peter Lely (which they demolished to allow for more garden space – Elizabeth Theobald being a noted gardener[2]). The house was eventually acquired by George IV in 1820. By 1853, it was the first location for the Herbarium, which contained dried specimens of herbs and fungus, including donations from the herbaria of botanists George Bentham and the Reverend William A. Bromfield. Later, the collection of Professor Sir William Jackson was added after his death in 1865. The building was expanded again in the late 19th century.

By the time he painted Mrs Theobald, Jeremiah Meyer was also a resident of Kew, living immediately to the east of Hunter house at Kew Green (on the corner of Ferry Lane). [3] Meyer was resident here from 1774 until his death in 1789. After the death of Meyer’s widow in 1819, the house was purchased by the Crown, becoming an annexe to Hunter House, previously home to the Theobald family. Meyer’s portrait of his neighbour would have been painted towards the end of his career, the short distance to the subject of his commission perhaps of great appeal in his final years of work.

Both Elizabeth Theobald and Jeremiah Meyer are buried at Kew Church and have monuments erected in their memories. Elizabeth’s states that; ‘She was an eminent Pattern of Christian Principles, Temper & Conduct. She possessed an affluent Fortune which she enjoyed with wisdom & dignity and distributed with Charity & beneficence, Thus humbly providing an Inheritance in Heaven…’. Elizabeth clearly continued the good work of her philanthropist husband after his death in 1778, as she appears listed in the ‘Members of the Philanthropic Society’ for March 1793.


[1] The house was not called ‘Hunter House’ when the Theobalds were in residence – it was named this after Robert Hunter, an eminent London merchant, who purchased the house from them and died in 1812.

[2] A reference to ‘Mrs Theobald’s beautiful gardens’ can be found in the 1792 notes on Kew by Daniel Lysons, ('Kew', in The Environs of London: Volume 1, County of Surrey (London, 1792), pp. 202-211)

[3] For more information about the layout of houses at Kew and their relationship to Kew Gardens see Ray Desmond, Kew: The History of the Royal Botanic Gardens, 2007


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