Henri Gascar, Portrait of Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland
James II of England, then Duke of York (1660s)Henri Gascar (1635 -1 Jan 1701) was a French-born portrait painter who achieved artistic success in England during the reign of Charles II. He painted many leading ladies at court, including several of the King's mistresses.
Gascar was born in Paris, the son of Pierre Gascar, a minor painter and sculptor. Gascar came to England about 1674, probably at the behest of Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, Charles II's favourite mistress. Gascar (or Gascard, as he seems to have spelt his name at first) was already known as a skillful portrait-painter; among the portraits already painted by him was that of Nicolas de Lafond, author of the "Gazette of Holland", painted in 1667, and engraved by Peter Lombart.
The patronage of the Duchess of Portsmouth insured Gascar a rapid success in England. His flamboyant style, contrasting with the stolid English approach, seemed to suit the frivolity of the time and he painted many of the ladies of Charles II's court. His lack of attention to detail in the likeness he made up for by the sumptuous draperies and tawdry adornments around the subject. For a short time he became fashionable, and is said to have amassed a fortune of over £10,000.
Among the portraits painted by him during his time in England were Charles II (engraved by Peter Vanderbank); Louise, Duchess of Portsmouth (twice - once engraved by Étienne Baudet); Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland (nee Villiers), and her daughter, Barbara Fitzroy; Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond; Frances Stewart, Duchess of Richmond; George FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Northumberland; Nell Gwyn; Sophia Bulkeley (engraved by Robert Dunkarton); Edmund Verney; and Philip Herbert, 7th Earl of Pembroke. It is stated that the last-named portrait was done surreptitiously for Louise, Duchess of Portsmouth. A portrait by Gascar of James II as Duke of York was in that king's collection.