George Vernon of Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire inherited the barony of the Venables of Kinderton in 1728 through his maternal relations. Anne Lee was his second wife and came from a prominent Buckinghamshire family. Their marriage in 1741 ended with her death less than a year later, which suggests a date for this painting of about 1741-42.
Anne Vernon is depicted in seventeenth century Van Dyckian costume, with a view of Sudbury Hall beyond. Sudbury Hall was built in 1660 and remained in the Vernon family until 1967. Also visible is the hall’s small dome, crowned with a golden ball on the roof of the hall, which acted as a beacon for travelers.
Arthur Devis was born in Preston, Lancashire in 1708. He reputedly studied under the celebrated Flemish painter, Peter Tillemans, who was working in England between 1708 and 1734, and whose technique in the painting of interiors and of small, neatly finished portraits is similar to Devis’. By 1742, Devis had set up a studio in Great Queen Street, London, a prospering artists’ community. He eventually retired to Brighton in 1781 and died there in 1787. His conversation pieces and portraits, commissioned by a clientele consisting of nobility and landed gentry, are exceptional for their verisimilitude of detail and painstaking rendering of texture.