Arthur Devis (London 1712-1787)
Portrait of Philip Howard of Corby Castle, Cumberland, small full-length, in a blue coat, seated holding a tricorn hat in his right hand, on the banks of the River Eden, Corby Tower beyond
signed and dated 'Artr. Devis fe 1759' (lower left)
oil on canvas
27½ x 35¼ in. (69.9 x 90.9 cm.)
S.H. Paviere, The Devis Family of Painters, Leigh-on-Sea, 1950, p. 46, no. 70.
G. Nares, 'Corby Castle, Cumberland', Country Life, January 1954, p. 95, pl. 15.
E. D'Oench, The Conservation Piece: Arthur Devis and his Contemporaries, New Haven and London, 1980, pp. 21 and 84, no. 85, fig. 4.
By descent in the family of the sitter, at Corby Castle, to John Howard;
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 13 July 1988, lot 38 (sold for £82,000).
with Richard Green, London, 1989.
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Philip Howard (b. 1730) was the son of Thomas Howard of Corby Castle (1677-1740) and his second wife Barbara Musgrave, daughter of Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt., of Edenhall, Cumberland. He married Ann (d. 1794), eldest daughter of Henry Witham of Cliffe, Yorkshire, in 1754, with whom he had four children. His interests were for the most part scholarly but he was also a keen agricultural improver and he was responsible for the introduction of clover and artificial grasses into Cumberland.
Corby Castle, which stands above the River Eden, south-east of Carlisle, had been the seat of the Howard family since the early 17th Century. Philip Howard is portrayed sitting at the edge of the formal garden on the south front of the house. Beyond him the River Eden runs through the grounds of the house, which his father had layed out between 1708 and 1729 (see fig. 1). In the distance, on the left bank of the river, can be seen the Tempietta, with its doric portico, which marked the southern boundary of the formal garden layout. The long and narrow island in the centre of the river was originally constructed by the monks of Wetheral Priory, which lay on the west bank of the river opposite Corby, in order to facilitate catching the salmon for which the river was celebrated. The old Priory gatehouse which survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries, unlike the Priory itself, can be seen on the hill to the right of the composition.