Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Girl with a Cat 

Daniel Gardner (c.1750-1805)

Portrait of a Girl with a Cat, Daniel Gardner
Oil on canvas
18th Century
23 x 19¼ inches, 58.5 x 49 cm
Daniel Gardner is best known for his child portraits, which were, according to the art historian Ellis Waterhouse, painted with “remarkable tenderness of feeling”. He rarely painted in oils, preferring pastel or pencil drawings. His oils, which ordinarily date from the 1780s and 90s, tend to be painted on unusually rough canvases. As a result, Gardner’s oils have a strikingly modern quality, which, combined with their directness and lack of sentimentality, marks them out from the standard portraits of the eighteenth century.

Gardner began his career under the tuition of George Romney, his fellow Cumbrian. After some time as Romney’s assistant, he entered the Royal Academy schools. He soon thereafter joined Joshua Reynolds’ studio, from where he adopted certain aspects of the ‘Grand Manner’. His independent practice began in the early 1770s. Gardner did not mix easily with his fellow artists, who viewed him as parsimonious, but he did form a close friendship with the young John Constable, introducing him to Lakeland scenery and the skills of portrait painting. When painting a portrait, Gardner, perhaps subject to over-sensitivity, refused to allow his sitters to see the work in progress, and used a specially constructed easel with locking shutters.

Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.