Portrait of James Christie (1730 - 1803)

Object Details

Title:

Portrait of James Christie (1730 - 1803)

Artist/Maker:

Thomas Gainsborough (English, 1727 - 1788)

Culture:

English

Date:

1778

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

127.6 × 102.2 cm (50 1/4 × 40 1/4 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of J. Paul Getty

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A charming and persuasive speaker, James Christie founded the fine arts auction house in London that still bears his name. He was a close friend and neighbor of Thomas Gainsborough, who painted this portrait. Gainsborough depicted the cultivated auctioneer leaning on one of the artist's own landscape paintings and holding a piece of paper in his right hand, perhaps an auction list. Christie wears a sober brown frock suit, a white linen shirt, and a formal wig. On the little finger of his left hand is a signet ring, and two pendant seals dangle from watches worn about his waist. His dress and jewelry befit a cosmopolitan English gentleman of the 1770s.

The Portrait of James Christie hung in a place of honor at Christie's auction house in London. The auction house was a gathering place for collectors, dealers, and fashionable society. The portrait immortalized the auctioneer and perpetuated his association with Gainsborough, who was one of England's most famous portrait painters.

Provenance
1778 - 1803

James Christie I, 1730 - 1803 (London, England), commissioned from the artist, 1778; by inheritance to his son, James Christie II, 1803.

1803 - 1831

James Christie II, 1773 - 1831 (London, England), by inheritance to his son, George Henry Christie, 1831.

1831 - 1887

George Henry Christie, died 1887 (London, England), by inheritance within the Christie family.

1887 -

Christie Family (London, England), by inheritance to James Archibald Christie.

- 1927

James Archibald Christie (London, England) [sold, Christie sale, Christie's, London, May 20, 1927, lot 29, to Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd.; M. Knoedler & Co., Ltd.; and Colnaghi.]
Source: GRI, M. Knoedler & Co. records, stock book 7, p. 143, no.16855.

1927 - 1938

Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (London, England; New York, New York)

1927 - 1938

and Knoedler & Company, 1846 - 2011 (London, England; New York, New York)
Source: GRI, M. Knoedler & Co. records, sold alphabetical artists, box 150, Gainsborough 'James Christie' card, no. 16855.

1927 - 1938

and Colnaghi (London, England; New York, New York), sold to J. Paul Getty, 1938.
Source: GRI, Colnaghi microfilm, Old Master Paintings stock, fiche 3, Gainsborough 'Portrait of James Christie, Esq.', no. A.1446.

1938 - 1970

J. Paul Getty, 1892 - 1976 (Malibu, California; Sutton Place, Surrey, England), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1970.

Exhibitions
Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts: MDCCLXXVIII (1778) (Cat. 117)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1778
British Institution (1817) (Cat. 137)
  • British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom (London), 1817
British Institution 1859 (1859) (Cat. 94)
  • British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom (London), 1859
Second Special Exhibition of National Portraits (1867) (Cat. 793)
  • South Kensington Museum (London), 1867
Exhibition of the Works of Thomas Gainsborough (1885) (Cat. 67)
  • Grosvenor Gallery (London), 1885
Works by the Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School (1891) (Cat. 4)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), 1891
Bicentenary Memorial Exhibition of Gainsborough (1927) (Cat. 52)
  • Unknown, 1927
Old and Modern Masters in the New York Art Market (March 15 to April 4, 1931) (Cat. 65)
  • American Art Association (New York), March 15 to April 4, 1931
Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by Thomas Gainsborough, R.A. (May 1 to May 31, 1931) (Cat. 2)
  • Cincinnati Art Museum (Cincinnati), May 1 to May 31, 1931
Art Treasures Exhibition (October 12 to November 5, 1932) (Cat. 1362)
  • Christie's (London), October 12 to November 5, 1932
Oude kunst uit het bezit van der internationalen handel (1936) (Cat. 51)
  • Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), 1936
Coronation Exhibition of British Pictures (May to June, 1937) (Cat. 42)
  • Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (London), May to June, 1937
Masterpieces of Art (European Paintings and Sculpture from 1300-1800) (May to October, 1939) (Cat. 130)
  • New York World's Fair (Queens), May to October, 1939
The Balch Collection and Old Masters from Los Angeles Collections, Assembled in Memory of Mr. and Mrs. Allan C. Balch (March 26 to April 30, 1944) (Cat. 58)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles), March 26 to April 30, 1944
Bicentenary exhibition [1967] (1967) (Cat. 15)
  • Christie's (London), 1967
Art Treasures in California (November 29 to December 31, 1969) (No cat. no.)
  • The Oakland Museum of California (Oakland), November 29 to December 31, 1969
Christmas at Christie's (1970)
  • Unknown, 1970
The J. Paul Getty Collection (June 29 to September 3, 1972) (Cat. 28)
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis), June 29 to September 3, 1972
Thomas Gainsborough (October 8, 1980 to January 4, 1981) (Cat. 121)
  • Tate Britain (London), October 8, 1980 to January 4, 1981
Thomas Gainsborough, 1727-1788 (October 24, 2002 to September 14, 2003) (Cat. 54)
  • Tate Britain (London), October 24, 2002 to January 19, 2003
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), February 9 to May 11, 2003
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, June 9 to September 14, 2003
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