Lieutenant Colonel Paul Pechell (1724–1800)

Thomas Gainsborough (British, Sudbury 1727–1788 London)

Oil on canvas
30 1/8 x 25 1/8 in. (76.5 x 63.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Payne Bingham Jr., 1990
Accession Number:
  • Catalogue Entry

    Paul Pechell, born at Owenstown, County Kildare, was the grandson of a Protestant who had fled Montauban for Ireland after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. He entered the British army in 1744 as cornet-en-second in the First Regiment of Dragoons, and by 1747 he had become a distinguished officer, serving in Flanders. He married Mary Brooke of Paglesham, Essex, in 1752. In 1754 he was gazetted guidon and later captain in the Second Troop of Horse Grenadier Guards; in 1759 he was promoted to major. He appears in the Regimental List (Army) as a lieutenant colonel from 1762 until his retirement in 1768, and thereafter, until 1785, in the List of General and Field Officers. He was created a baronet in 1797 (Wood 1998). Portraits of his son and daughter-in-law by Hoppner are also in the Museum's collection (46.13.3, 4).

    Pechell wears a red uniform coat with a high collar and epaulet, probably that of lieutenant colonel of the Second Troop of Horse Grenadier Guards. Waterhouse [Ref. 1958] dated the portrait to the London period, after 1774, and it is difficult to be more precise. The work is in good state, although the varnish is moderately discolored. What seems from photographs to be a replica or a good copy was sold as by Gainsborough at Christie’s, London, December 12, 1952, no. 77 (location unknown).

    [2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscribed (upper left): Sir Paul Pechell Bt. / an Original by Gainsborough

  • Provenance

    the sitter, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Paul Pechell, 1st Baronet, Paglesham, Essex (probably until d. 1800); Cecil Sebag-Montefiore, Stisted Hall, Braintree, Essex (until 1912; sale, Christie's, London, July 12, 1912, no. 83, for £4,620 to Colnaghi); [Colnaghi, London, and Knoedler, New York, 1912; sold to Payne]; Colonel Oliver H. Payne, New York (1912–d. 1917); his nephew, Harry Payne Bingham, New York (1917–d. 1955); Mrs. Harry Payne Bingham, New York (1955–d. 1986); Mr. and Mrs. Harry Payne Bingham Jr., Shaftesbury, Vermont (1986–90)

  • References

    E[llis]. K. Waterhouse. "Preliminary Check List of Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough." Walpole Society 33 (1948–50), p. 83, as Sir Paul Pechell, 1st Bt.

    Ellis Waterhouse. Gainsborough. London, 1958, p. 84, no. 539, as London period.

    Stephen Wood. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. April 8, 1998, from what he can see of the sitter's uniform, "would be inclined to date the painting to the 1770s, which probably means that Pechell is depicted in the uniform of a lieutenant-colonel, 2nd Troop of Horse Grenadier Guards".

    Katharine Baetjer. British Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1575–1875. New York, 2009, pp. 98–99, 197, no. 43, ill. (color).

  • See also