Portrait of Sir Everard Fawkener (1694 – 1758), c. 1753-55
(Possibly) By descent from the Artist to
Tilanus collection, Amsterdam; thence by descent to
Private Collection, Paris.
Anon. Sale; Artcurial, Paris, 27 March 2019, lot 343 (as *‘Jean Étienne Liotard’).
Private Collection, UK, acquired at the above auction.
We are grateful to Prof. Marcel Rothlisberger for confirming the attribution to Liotard on the basis of first-hand inspection; 12 May 2019.
The Fawkener family were long-established country gentry and had been engaged in trade, especially in the Levant, since the 17th Century. Everard’s father, William (1642 – 1716) was a prosperous merchant and became one of the leading members of the Levant Company.
After an early classical education, Everard Fawkener entered the family business. In 1716 he was sent to Aleppo, where he remained until 1725. This period coincided with the rise in importance of the firm Snelling and Fawkeners, who were the leading Levant traders by the 1730s, and it is likely that Fawkener would have become a man of wealth from his years in Aleppo. He met Voltaire in Paris in 1725, possibly on his return journey, an encounter that marked the beginnings of an enduringly memorable friendship. The following year he offered hospitality to the French writer when the latter found himself in England, alone, impoverished, and distressed. Fawkener had purchased or leased a country house at Wandsworth, then a village outside London, and this became Voltaire’s home for large parts of his stay (1726-28).
Fawkener remained a merchant until 1735, when he was made Ambassador to the Sublime Porte in Constantinople. His term of office as Ambassador lasted until November 1742, when he was granted permission to return home for a brief leave to attend to family business, although he never went back to Turkey.
Liotard was born in Geneva in 1702, the son of a Huguenot refugee, and trained partly in Paris; he also worked in London, Constantinople, Vienna, Frankfurt and Lyons, a European cosmopolitan of his era. Liotard’s Eastern travels played to the new and burgeoning fascination with the Orient and Turquerie. Liotard travelled to Turkey with the aristocrats John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, and the Hon William Ponsonby, Viscount Duncannon, who would become one of his greatest patrons, owning seventy-two works between them. They enlisted Liotard ‘to draw the dresses of every country they should go into; to take prospects of all the remarkable places which had made a figure in history; and to preserve in their memories, by the help of painting, those noble remains of antiquity which they went in quest of.’ In Smyrna, and for much longer in Pera, Liotard took portrait commissions from European diplomats and merchantmen, but he also painted Ottoman men and women in domestic settings. It was in Turkey that Liotard met Fawkener, who sat for him on several occasions: there is a drawing of Fawkener in black and red chalk now at the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery (fig. 1) another version of the present enamel with some differences at the Ashmolean Museum (fig. 2) and a pastel drawing at the V&A (fig. 3)
In March 1745, Fawkener was appointed secretary to the Duke of Cumberland, a post he held for the rest of his days. He remained a bachelor until he was fifty-two years of age, when, on 19 February 1747, he married Harriet (1725 – 1777), the daughter of Lieutenant-General Charles Churchill and his junior by thirty years; the couple had two sons and a daughter. Fawkener died in Bath on 16 November 1758.