Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of King George III (1738-1820) 

Johann Heinrich Freiherr von Hurter (1734-1799)

Portrait miniature of King George III (1738-1820), Johann Heinrich Freiherr von Hurter
Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 45mm (1 ĺ in) high
European Private Collection
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This portrait in watercolour is another version of the enamel portrait of King George III in the Royal Collection. Hurter and his contemporary Richard Collins were employed to produce miniature portraits, often based on oil paintings to be given to family members, friends and courtiers or presented as a diplomatic gift . This miniature has been taken from the full length by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88), commissioned by George III and hung at the Royal Academy in 1781. A version of this portrait survives, in an aristocratic private collection, suspended from a chatelaine and given by George III to Elizabeth, Countess Harcourt. The provenance of this miniature suggests that it was originally presented as a gift to a European nobleman at the English court.

Like Collins, Hurter worked in enamel and pastel, but as this example shows he also occasionally painted in watercolour on ivory. This portrait of George III is in fact extremely rare in Hurterís oeuvre and certainly no other examples on ivory by him exist in public collections.

Hurter was born in Schaffhausen but by 1777 was settled in London, exhibiting at the Royal Academy between 1779 and 1781. After this he travelled widely in Europe, returning to London in 1787 to set up a factory for mathematical instruments. He then travelled back and forth between his native Germany and England, being employed by Catherine the Great in 1787 and enobled by the Elector Karl Theodore in 1789.
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