A portrait by
JOHN OPIE R.A.
Oil on canvas
23 inches/ 18 inches
Seen to waist, three quarter face to left.
“In Spanish costume, hat with feather”
JOHN OPIE AND HIS WORKS: John Jope Rogers (Colnaghi / Netherton and Worth) 1878 p.69
JOHN OPIE AND HIS CIRCLE: Ada EARLAND (Hutchinson) 1911 p.261.
EXHIBITED: Penlee House, Penzance. (Cornwall) 1993
ROGERS says the picture could be traced back to Opie’s lifetime.
It was in 1878 in the possession of THOMAS FIELD
By EARLAND, 1911, the picture had passed to MRS. F.W.FIELD
CHRISTIES 6th February 1931, lot 58 (13 gns to Crewe)
CHRISTIES 17th October 1986 (to private collection)
THE BADCOCK FAMILY
Henry Badcock of the parish of WHITSTONE, held the office of COLLECTOR of CUSTOMS at Penzance. He married PARTHESIA, daughter of John KEIGWIN of MOUSEHOLE, near Penzance. The ancient Keigwin house at Mousehole is still an impressive building in the 21st century.
The Badcocks lived at TRUNGLE, a house near Paul, on high ground inland from Paenzance. As COLLECTOR, Badcock hadan establishment in the Customs House in CHAPEL STREET, Penzance.
Henry and Parthesia Badcock had a son, William, who in turn had a son JOHN, the subject of Opie’s portrait.
Opie probably painted the portrait in the summer of 1780.
This JOHN BADCOCK died on May 10th, 1784. He was buried in the church at PAUL, on the hill high above Penzance.
An impressive memorial pays tribute to John as well as to his family background.
The obviously expensive memorial was erected not by the Badcocks, but by Mr. JOHN PRICE.
THE CONNECTION WITH THE PRICE FAMILY AND TRENGWAINTON
The PRICE family lived in Jamaica. They owned extensive property and enjoyed very considerable wealth as a result of the sugar plantations. In the early eighteenth century their enormous wealth enabled them to live in style, but eight of the children died. Colonel Charles Price decided to send his two surviving sons to England. The eldest, Charles went to Trinity College, Oxford. His tutor was Dr Frank Nicholls of TREREIFE, near Penzance. The younger, JOHN, went to WINCHESTER. When he became ill at Winchester, Charles was informed and discussed the illness with his tutor. Dr Nicholls recommended that John should go down to Penzance, where the mild climate and sea breezes would be beneficial.
It was Dr Nicholls who arranged for John to go and stay with Henry and Parthesia BADCOCK.
Henry and Parthesia Badcock had the son William mentioned above. They also had several daughters.
John Price thus grew up with the Badcock children.
In 1736 John Price married Margery Badcock. At this time he enjoyed an income of two thousand pounds a year, which was a fortune by the normal standards of Penzance folk. He built a house in Chapel Street. It was large and expensively constructed in stone rather than cob and thatch. It occupied the whole of the area above what is now the Union Hotel. Three years after the marriage, John Price was dead, leaving one son, also called John Price.
This John was able to grow up in Penzance also. The family connection with the Badcocks was strong. He grew up with JOHN BADCOCK his cousin.
John PRICE went to Trinity College Oxford and then went out to Jamaica where he married Elizabeth-Williams Bramer. They returned to Cornwall, where Price was sheriff in 1774.
In 1780, Opie arrived in Penzance.
Opie moved with his mentor Dr John Wolcot to Helston, Cornwall, when life in Truro became too complicated as a result of the satirical productions of Wolcot. The move was useful for Opie as it brought him to a new town where there were more potential customers for portraits.
From Helston, Opie made a prolonged excursion to the far west, Penzance and beyond. This remote area provided another useful set of subjects.
As well as the local characters, such as the Old Jew, Penzance offered numerous worthies. There was
JOHN BADCOCK, a prosperous young man with wife and son John, aged eight.
Badcock was painted in a distinctive costume. It is a brown jacket with lace collar, tasseled. There is a slouch hat also. John Jope Rogers describes it as Spanish. It is probably the outfit which was given to Opie by the Prideaux family of Padstow when he painted portraits for them.
Opie also painted JOHN BADCOCK, the son of the above and his wife Grace.
The boy is described as IN BLUE, AT THE AGE OF EIGHT, STANDING, WITH A RABBIT IN HIS ARMS.
The location of this is at present unknown.
Opie also painted John Price’s son, ROSE PRICE in Spanish costume, quite possibly the same outfit. Rose was only twelve years old at the time.
Price paid for the portrait of his son Rose, and may well have paid for the two Badcock pictures also.
The so-called SPANISH element is of interest. Opie developed his style partly under the influence of prints and engravings. He consciously attempted to imitate the Old Masters. The dark backgrounds and strong chiaroscuro became common in his work. Possibly in his Spanish costumes he was trying to capture the flavour of a Rembrandt or a Van Dyke.
If the costume really is Spanish, as John Jope Rogers was apparently told by immediate descendants of the family, that would have an aptness.
Badcock’s grandmother was Parthesia KEIGWIN of Mousehole. That fishing village was famously attacked by the Spanish and the Keigwins featured prominently in that great battle.
Price bought another picture too – a self-portrait by Opie.
The young artist is possibly seen wearing the same costume as Badcock.