Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of a Gentleman in a plum coat with gold embroidered white waistecoat and lace cravat, his wig powdered and worn en queue 

Jeremiah Meyer RA (1735–1789)

Portrait miniature of a Gentleman in a plum coat with gold embroidered white waistecoat and lace cravat, his wig powdered and worn en queue, Jeremiah Meyer RA
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Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 1 7/8 inches, 4.7cm
 
Provenance:
Christies, London, 12th July 1988, lot.216. English Private Collection.
Gilt-metal frame, the plain reverse engraved with scrolling ‘JL’


Born in Germnay and moving to England at an early age, Jeremiah Meyer’s early training was with the enamellist Christian Friedrich Zincke and was one of the first miniaturists to really exploit the medium of ivory, using transparent washes to allow the delicate tones of the ivory to show luminescent through the paint.

Meyer was the oldest of a group of artists, including Richard Cosway, John Smart and Richard Crosse, all born around the same date, who took lessons at William Shipley 's new drawing school, the first such school in London. After his expensive apprenticeship with Zincke, it seems that he also spent time at the informal St. Martin's Lane 'Academy' run by William Hogarth. As one of the founder members of the Royal Academy, which opened in 1769, Meyer was one of a new generation of miniaturists who would present their art form in direct competition with oil painters. In 1764, Meyer was appointed miniature painter to Queen Charlotte and painter in enamel to King George III and a decade later, in 1774, one critic noted ‘[His] miniatures excell all others in pleasing Expression, Variety of Tints and Freedom of Execution’.

The present work is typical of Meyer’s linear style of painting and under magnification one can make out the network of hatching and the long, unbroken lines painstakingly painted by the artist to give the effect of light and shade. The difficulty of a linear approach when painting delicate physical features is clearly overcome by Meyer in the present work and one need only examine the sitter’s right ear under magnification to see this.

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