Pamela Bradley, FAGI, Co. Wicklow
Susanna Maria Sautelle (1716-1800) was the daughter of Major Francis Sautelle, a Huguenot refugee who settled in Waterford. Family lore claims that she eloped at a young age with John Roberts (1712-1796) also from Waterford, much to the displeasure of her father. This portrait is thought to depict her with a wedding veil thrown back.
Susanna’s husband John Roberts became a successful architect. He designed and supervised the construction of many buildings, particularly in Co. Waterford, including the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic cathedrals in Waterford city. Supposedly Waterford is the only place in the world where one architect designed cathedrals for both denominations.
Susanna and John (known as “Honest John”) had many children and a long and happy life together, living in the old Bishop’s Palace in the centre of Waterford city. One of their sons was Thomas Roberts (1748-1777), a well- known landscape painter of his day, who died in Lisbon at the young age of 28 having travelled there in an attempt to escape the ravages of his tuberculosis infection. In 2009 the National Gallery of Ireland held an exhibition of Thomas’s paintings together with some of his contemporaries’ works, and a pastel portrait of Thomas by Hugh Douglas Hamilton was included.
The attached portrait of Susanna Maria Roberts née Sautelle was not available at the time of the Thomas Roberts exhibition as its existence has only recently come to light in the home of a descendent who lives in England.