A family portrait of Lord Dacre, his wife and child

On 30th October, the BBC4 TV programme, looked at a portrait of George Oakley Aldrich which the programme’s presenter, Bendor Grosvenor, believed could be attributed to Pompeo Batoni. During the programme, his co presenter, Emma Dabiri, visited the Essex Record Office to look at a Batoni painting in their collection. This was a portrait of Thomas Barrett-Lennard (17th Lord Dacre), with his wife, Anna Maria Pratt, and their daughter, Barbara Anne who had died before the work was painted.

The Barret-Lennard’s lived at Belhus, in Aveley. The portrait discussed in the programme is among a large collection of paintings donated by the Barrett-Lennard family. They range in date from Lady Dacre and John Lennard, both painted around 1600, to the fifth Baronet, painted in 1936. A few of the portraits in the collection are on display in the public search room at the ERO. In addition to Batoni, the collection includes works by Gheeraerts and Lely. More than a dozen are illustrated on the Art UK website which also lists others without illustration.

The Barrett-Lennard collection in 1974 (not all of which are in the Essex Record Office) was photographed and a list published by the Courtauld Institute of Art. However, some works from the collection had already been sold in the Belhus sale of 1923. The ERO has a typescript entitled A Short Account of the Previous Owners of Belhus since it was built, with Catalogue of the Family Portraits there, and of the armorial glass in some of the windows, April 1917. This has been heavily annotated in manuscript. Information about most of subjects of the portraits can be found in An account of the families of Lennard and Barrett written by Thomas Barrett Lennard and published in 1908. A copy of this is available in the Grays Central library, which also has a copy of the 1923 sale catalogue.