Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Gentleman wearing a blue jacket 

George Engleheart (1750/3-1829)

Portrait of a Gentleman wearing a blue jacket, George Engleheart
Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Private Collection, UK.
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George Engleheart is a name synonymous with the eighteenth century ‘Golden Age’ of portrait miniature painting. Cleverly combining unrivalled talent with prodigious output, his miniatures have the capability to define not just a person, but the age in which he worked.

Engleheart was born in Kew, the son of a German plaster modeler. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools under Reynolds and the landscape painter George Barret. Engleheart’s skill and industry as a miniaturist appealed to George III, and in 1789 he was appointed Miniature Painter to the King. He painted at least twenty-five portraits of the King and many others of the royal family. He spent most of his career working in London where he built up an excellent reputation.

The present work is a fine example from Engleheart’s ‘middle-phase’ of the 1780’s, a highly prolific period for the artist, producing some 2,000 works during that decade. As is typical of Engleheart throughout his career, this unknown gentleman is painted with large, deep eyes and the deep blue colouring of the sitter’s jacket has remained unusually vibrant. The skill and manipulation of the artist can be seen in the way he has masterfully left areas of ivory exposed in the cravat, this creates a heightened level of luminosity.
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