Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Viscountess, probably Philadelphia Hannah Dawson, Viscountess Cremorne (c.1740-1826) 

Richard Cosway RA (1742-1821)

Portrait of a Viscountess, probably Philadelphia Hannah Dawson, Viscountess Cremorne (c.1740-1826), Richard Cosway
Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 1 5/8in (42mm) high
Private Collection
To view works by Cosway for sale please go to www.philipmould.com.

This portrait miniature is thought to depict Philadelphia Hannah Dawson, Viscountess Cremorne (c.1740-1826), whose grandfather William Penn (1644-1718) founded the American province of Pennsylvania . Philadelphia married Thomas Dawson, 1st Viscount Cremorne, MP (1725-1813) in 1770 becoming Baroness Cremorne, attaining the title of Viscountess later in 1785.
Although we do not know a great deal about Philadelphia’s life, we know that she was lady-in-waiting and close personal friend of Queen Charlotte, reflected in the Queen’s frequent visits to Lady Cremorne’s house in Chelsea (now known as Cremorne Gardens). It was on Philadelphia’s recommendation that Queen Charlotte sat for the great Regency painter Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1730), presumably as a result of her own sitting to Lawrence a few years previously.
This portrait dates to the mid-1770s when Cosway was firmly established as fashionable society’s foremost miniature painter. His association with the Prince of Wales, whom he had first met and painted in 1780, guaranteed his introduction to a host of aristocratic patrons. He also met and married his future wife, Maria (nče Hadfield), at the beginning of this decade. Cosway’s association with this circle of patronage lasted thirty years until around 1811, when their professional relationship and friendship came to an end. This portrait of Philadelphia is remarkable in retaining the fresh tones of the watercolour paint and remaining in its beautiful original, jewelled setting.

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