Edward Luttrell, Lady, Full Length Portrait - Original 1683 pastel drawing


An original 1683 pastel drawing, Edward Luttrell Lady, Full Length Portrait.

An accomplished full length portrait in pastel bearing the signature ‘ELuttrell fe’ and date 1683. The laid paper bears a 17th-century Angoumois fleur de lis watermark, otherwise known as the ‘Strassburgian Lily’, with crowned armour and number 4 and WR (Wendelin Riehl) countermark. The lower part of the watermark is all but indistinguishable due the heavy, dark application of pastel, but the crown, fleur de lis, ‘4’ and ‘W’ are discernable. Underneath would likely be the Jesuit symbol ‘IHS with cross’. Please see images for further detail.

Edward Luttrell (c.1650-1737) was an English pastellist and mezzotint engraver. An early champion of the pastel medium, he fervently defended working in pure pastel on paper, saying: ‘it will not only have the freedome and strength of a painting but the neatness and beauty of Limning. And with the free and soft Crayons anything that is or can be painted may be expressed whatever the ignorant say to the Contrary.’

The sitter of the portrait is unknown. The subject resembles the court portraiture of Anthony Van Dyck, Sir Peter Lely, and Sir Godfrey Kneller - and could indeed be a copy after a mezzotint. The lady is presented full length and front-facing, conferring an authority previously the preserve of royal portraiture in the 15th and 16th centuries. She is surrounded by sweeping curtain, classical urn and flowers, all common tropes of 17th century portraiture.

This drawing is pictured under the Luttrell entry in Neil Jeffares scholarly ‘Dictionary of pastellists before 1800’, which also provides excellent further reading. 

Signed and dated lower right.
Overall in very good condition for its age. The right edge of the paper is somewhat worn, with a number of short repaired tears. There is a central horizontal fold crease, and another across the paper, below centre, neither of which are especially visible on the front. There is a small repaired patch to the lower edge of the paper, and also slight water marking towards the bottom of the sheet. There are four tiny scattered pinholes in the paper at the upper left, which are only visible when backlit. Please see photos for detail.
45cm x 33cm.

Edward Luttrell (c.1650-1737) is thought to have been born in London around 1650. After leaving a practice in law, Luttrell started with ‘the manner of drawing in Crayons’, later turning to mezzotint engraving. Luttrell’s earliest signed pastel was dated 1674. From around 1680 he combined his skills in print and pastel, working in pastel on prepared copper plates - a practice he possibly invented, or derived from the Dutch engraver Abraham Blooteling. Several of Luttrell’s prints were published with the mezzotint engraver and pastellist John Smith.

In 1683, the year of this drawing, Luttrell wrote a manuscript entitled ‘Epitome of painting, containing breife directions for drawing, painting, limning and cryoons’ (now at the Yale Center for British Art). This document reveals him to be an experienced practitioner and he discusses pastel technique in great detail, including rubbing with the finger to achieve a neat look, and using a crayon point to clean up blurred lines. He also discusses recipes for pastel and methods of mixing pigments. Luttrell’s palette is notable for the characteristic flesh tones of very warm reds and oranges. He also frequently supplemented dry pastel with gouache washes.

In the 1680s it is believed Luttrell worked in both London and Oxford, producing portrait commissions in pastel. He also made copies after Rembrandt, Van Dyck and other masters.

His output fell dramatically after 1705. He died at Braunton in Devon, the parish associated with the Luttrell family, in 1737.

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Product code: JM-937

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