Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of an Actor 

Samuel John Stump (1785-1863)

Portrait of an Actor, Samuel John Stump
Watercolour on ivory
19th Century
Rectangular, 7 x 5 5/8 in (17.8 x 14.3 cm)
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The present work is one of the most ambitious portrait miniatures by Stump to emerge in recent years and is a testament to the artistís skill as a painter.

Sadly, we know very little about Stumpís career as a painter and even less about him as a person. It is generally accepted that he was born in America, based on a reference to ĎThe American Stumpí which appears in the records of The Sketching Society. Stump entered the Royal Academy Schools on 3rd October 1796 and started exhibiting at the Academy from 1802.

Stump became very much involved in the theatrical circles in London from quite early on, exhibiting a portrait of the actor Charles Kemble (1775-1854), younger brother of John Philip Kemble, in 1803. Numerous actors and actresses appear in the titles of his Academy exhibits throughout his life and one of his finest works is his sensitive portrait of Henry Siddons, son of Sarah Siddons [National Portrait Gallery, London].

Although the sitter is sadly at present unknown, this work undoubtedly shows someone from this theatrical circle in costume. One also notices the technical bravura of Stump seen in the combination of meticulous stippling in the young manís face and the broader, virtuoso handling seen in his attire.
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