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In the 1730s, the enameller Christian Friedrich Zincke was commissioned by Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, to produce a series of members of the Walpole family.[1] The writer, collector and socialite Horace Walpole, youngest son of Sir Robert, valued the beauty and importance of enamel portraits and portrait miniatures, his own collection displaying examples from the sixteenth century to his present day. Walpole’s own portrait by Zincke, was taken in 1745. He also owned portrait enamels by Zincke of his friends, including, according to Henry Bohn, one of the ‘Countess of Conway’, likely Isabella Seymour-Conway, Countess of Hertford, wife of the sitter in the present portrait.[2] In 2015, a portrait by Zincke of Henry Seymour-Conway, brother of Francis, was sold by Philip Mould & Co..[3] It can be assumed that Zincke met the Hertford Family through the Walpole’s as they were not only cousins, but also very good friends.

The figure depicted in this miniature is Francis...

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In the 1730s, the enameller Christian Friedrich Zincke was commissioned by Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, to produce a series of members of the Walpole family.[1] The writer, collector and socialite Horace Walpole, youngest son of Sir Robert, valued the beauty and importance of enamel portraits and portrait miniatures, his own collection displaying examples from the sixteenth century to his present day. Walpole’s own portrait by Zincke, was taken in 1745. He also owned portrait enamels by Zincke of his friends, including, according to Henry Bohn, one of the ‘Countess of Conway’, likely Isabella Seymour-Conway, Countess of Hertford, wife of the sitter in the present portrait.[2] In 2015, a portrait by Zincke of Henry Seymour-Conway, brother of Francis, was sold by Philip Mould & Co..[3] It can be assumed that Zincke met the Hertford Family through the Walpole’s as they were not only cousins, but also very good friends.

The figure depicted in this miniature is Francis Seymour-Conway, the first marquess of Hertford. Francis was born on the 5th of July 1718 in Chelsea at Lindsey House. He was the son and heir of Francis Seymour-Conway, first Baron Conway of Ragley and his third wife Charlotte, the daughter of John and Elizabeth Shorter of Bybrook, Kent. Hertford attended Eton College from 1732 and succeeded his father whilst he was in his first year as second Baron Conway. On the 29th of May 1741 he married Isabella Fitzroy, the youngest daughter of the second Duke of Grafton, and his wife, Henrietta Somerset. Together they had seven sons and 6 daughters. He was created Viscount Beauchamp and Earl of Hertford on the 3rd of August 1750. Soon after this he was made Lord of the Bedchamber and then in 1758, he was made a Knight of the Garter.

A few years later he became a privy Councillor followed by ambassador to France. Whilst in France, Hertford sadly witnessed Madame de Pompadour’s last remaining months. He’d had great admiration for her, particularly as a highly influential patron of the arts. He later became the Viceroy of Ireland in the autumn of 1765 and was well liked for his honesty and religious beliefs. His cousin Horace Walpole once described him as ‘a perfect courtier’[4], as he had held these numerous posts. But it was when he was at the heart of court life that he reached the height of his importance as Lord chamberlain from 1766 to 1782. Here he acted as a confident and close friend to George III. With the Kings approval, Hertford was part of the negotiations that looked to make the Chatham administration stronger and through this he nearly became first minister. However, he declined on the basis that he did not want to speak in parliament.

With the help of Walpole, Hertford managed to persuade his brother to stay with the Chatham administration and prevented him from getting too close to the opposition in 1768 (this was until the outbreak of war with the American colonies in 1775). Hertford kept up his support for Lord North’s administration and the war in America where three of his sons were serving - even though his correspondence with Walpole tells us that he did not believe in its success. A few years later, he again acted as a mediator in the negotiations that aimed to push further military actions by reaching out to the members of the opposition through the Duke of Grafton. He was, however, unsuccessful.

In 1782 he followed Lord North into opposition and became more focused on the politics within the party. Following this he returned to his old post as Lord chamberlain. In the same year, his wife died at the age of fifty-six due to a cold she caught while nursing her grandson at Forde’s farm. According to Walpole, “Lord Hertford’s loss is beyond measure. She was not only the most affectionate wife, but the most useful one, and almost the only person I ever saw that never neglected or put off or forgot anything that was to be done. She was always proper, either in the highest life or in the most domestic.”[5] After being dismissed with the coalition towards the end of the year, he re-joined North into opposition and turned down William Pitt the younger’s offer of a marquessate. After having opposed Pitt’s Regency Bill, he finally went to him due to the realignment that followed the outbreak of war with France and was then created Marquess of Hertford and Earl of Yarmouth in 1793.

Hertford died in June 1794 from injuries relating to a riding accident at his daughter’s home. His Eldest son, Francis Ingram-Seymour-Conway, succeeded his titles and he was buried in Warwickshire, at Arrow.

Zincke was one of the most sought-after artists of the early to mid-Georgian period. Born in Dresden to a family of goldsmiths, he travelled to London at the invitation of Charles Boit, then the leading practitioner of enamelling in Europe. From 1714, Boit having fled England to escape his creditors, Zincke became England’s finest and most sought after enamellist.

Zincke’s output was prolific and although his eyesight began to deteriorate during the 1720s, he was made enamel painter to George II in 1732, which increased his patronage further.[6] Unlike other enamellists many of his portraits were made ad vivum, although he was not averse to flattering his sitters at their request.

[1] OSSORY ii. 110, n. 19.

[2] Bohn, Henry G. (2013). pp. 19-20. A Guide to the Knowledge of Pottery, Porcelain, and Other Objects of Vertu (Vol. 1). London: Forgotten Books. (Original work published 1862).

[3] A second version of this portrait is at the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square, London.

[4] (Walpole, Memoirs, 1.269

[5] Walpole, Horace., Cunningham, Peter. The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Oxford. United Kingdom: Henry G. Bohn, 1866.

[6] Vertue recorded in 1726 that Zincke ‘has had more persons of distinction daily sitting to him than any other painter living’ (Vertue, Note books, 3.30).

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500 Years of British Art