Alexis Simon Belle (1674-1734)
Mildmay Fane, Inscribed: My fifth Son of / Vere E. of Westmoreland
Oil on Canvas, 126 x 100cm / 148 x 123cm, Baroque Style Original Frame,
Provenance: By family descent at Apethorpe Hall, Wansford, until sold in the Apethorpe sale, Christie's 2nd June 1892, lot 92.
An important portrait of one of England's well known families. The Hon. Mildmay Fane, 5th son of the Earl of Westmoreland resided in one of the most influential Fane residences: Mereworth Castle, Kent. Mildmay was elected Member of Parliament to Mereworth at a very young age. Both he and his brother the Hon. John Fane 4th son of the Earl of Westmoreland, were Jacobites and strong supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie, often speaking on his behalf in Parliament. Mildmay Fane died at a very young age in 1715. His brother took over the Mereworth seat and went on to host the last Jacobite Council at Mereworth Castle. The meeting was the last stop for Bonnie Prince Charlie before he led his army to fight for his claim to the throne.
A prolific and successful artist, Alexis Belle was primarily known for his portraits of French and Jacobite nobility. He studied under French painter Francois de Troy, court painter to James II. Following the death of James II, Belle became the principal painter to the Jacobite court and painted numerous portraits of James Edward Stuart and his sister The Princess Royal. Belle's most famous portrait of James Edward Stuart was painted in 1712 and shows him in military regalia just before he leaves Saint Germain for Lorraine.
During the 1720's Belle received numerous commissions from the French nobility. He painted King Louis XV and a portrait of the King with his one-time fiancee Mariana Victoria of Spain.
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