The J. Paul Getty Museum

Portrait of Joseph (1741-1786) and his Brother John Gulston (1750-1764)

Object Details


Portrait of Joseph (1741-1786) and his Brother John Gulston (1750-1764)


Francis Cotes (English, 1726 - 1770)






Pastel on blue paper, mounted on canvas

Object Number:



67.3 × 82.6 cm (26 1/2 × 32 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

In this double pastel portrait, the brothers Joseph and John Gulston appear close-up in half-length, standing before an expanse of wooded landscape. The elder brother, Joseph, age thirteen, wears a "Van Dyck" costume, a costume in the style of Anthony van Dyck's portrait paintings from the 1600s. Also in a historicizing vein, his younger brother John wears a dress, traditionally worn by both boys and girls until they reached four years of age, and holds a wicker basket full of colorful summer blossoms. Francis Cotes captured his sitters with disarming directness. Joseph bears himself gracefully and engages the viewer with his gaze, yet he still retains the fragile self-reserve typical of an older boy. His brother John, however, caught in three-quarter view, moves and smiles with the unselfconscious spontaneity of a four-year-old. The contrast between the two boys' ages, clothing, and actions indicates that the subject is more than a likeness of two children--it serves as a commentary on the passage of childhood.

1754 - 1766

Joseph Gulston, Sr., Esq., died 1766 (Ealing Grove), commissioned from the artist, 1754; by inheritance within the Gulston family

1766 - 1786

Joseph Gulston, Jr., Esq., 1745 - 1786 (Ealing Grove)

1786 - 1790

Joseph Gulston, Esq., 1768 - 1790, by inheritance within Stepney-Gulston Family

- 1998

Ralph Alan Stepney-Gulston, Esq., British, died 1998, by inheritance to his widow, Joy Stepney-Gulston

1998 - 1998

Joy Stepney-Gulston (Derwydd Mansion, Llandeilo Carmarthenshire) [sold Sotheby's, Carmarthenshire, September 15, 1998, lot 75, to Rafael Valls Limited]

1998 - 1999

Rafael Valls Limited (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999.

Society of Artists 1761 (May 9, 1761)
  • Society of Artists (London), 1761
Childhood: A Loan Exhibition of Works of Art (January 2 to January 27, 1988)
  • Sotheby's (London), 1980
Fashionable Likeness: Pastel Portraits in 18th-Century Britain (November 1, 2016 to May 7, 2017)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 1, 2016 to May 7, 2017
Pastels in Pieces (January 16 to July 29, 2018)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 16 to July 29, 2018
Eighteenth-Century Pastel Portraits (August 28, 2018 to October 13, 2019)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 28, 2018 to October 13, 2019

Society of Artists of Great Britain. A Catalogue of the Pictures, Sculptures [...] May the 9th, 1761, exh. cat. (London: n.p., 1761), p. 4, no. 19.

Graves, Algernon. The Society of Artists of Great Britain, 1760-1791; the Free Society of Artists, 1761-1783: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and Their Work From the Foundation of the Societies to 1791 (London: G. Bell and sons, 1907), p. 65, under entry for Francis Cotes 1761, no. 19.

Steegman, John. A Survey of Portraits in Welsh Houses. 2 vols. (Cardiff: National Museum of Wales, 1962), vol. 2 (Houses in South Wales), p. 53, no. 35.

Johnson, Edward Mead.Francis Cotes: Complete Edition with a Critical Essay and a Catalogue (Oxford: Phaidon, 1972), p. 57, no. 52, fig. 24.

Childhood: A Loan Exhibition of Works of Art, exh. cat. (London: Sotheby's, 1988), p. 61, no. 80, ill.

Sotheby's, Carmarthenshire. Derwydd Mansion: Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire. September 15, 1998, pp. 42-43, 50-51, lot 75, ill.

Recent Acquisitions 1999 (London: Rafael Valls, 1999), unpaginated, no. 6, ill.

Lawson, Emma, ed. "House Sales: Derwydd Mansion, Carmarthenshire." Sotheby's Art at Auction 1998-1999 (London: Sotheby's, 1999), p. 186, ill.

Jeffares, Neil. Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800 (London: Unicorn Press, 2006), p. 135, ill.