The Bateson Children
The Children of Thomas Bateson 1762 Strickland Lowry (1737-1785) Oil on canvas BELUM.U1664
This portrait of the Bateson children is both an imposing conversation piece and a fascinating record of the interior of the Bateson home at Orangefield, Co. Down, near Belfast. Lowry executed the painting with the eye of a reporter, so detailed and accurate are the children’s costumes and the objects in the room.
The children each hold items which provide insight into their personalities, or how their father wanted to project their characters.
In the background you can see a painting of Belfast Harbour, which symbolises the family’s wealth and links with trading. The globe also suggests Batesons involvement with international trading.
Originally thought to be by Philip Hussey, the current attribution is based upon documentary evidence of 1828 and 1865, which gives the picture to Lowry. The formal arrangement of the children and the careful attention to detail of the costume and furnishings accords with Lowry’s style.
Lowry originally from Cumbria, arrived in Ireland around 1762 and worked in the country intermittently until the early 1780s, mainly in the north, though details of his movements are sketchy. Besides portraits, his output embraced still-life and trompe l’oeil paintings, works which show him to have been a versatile and accomplished painter.