Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Morecroft Kirkes RN (1783-1832) 

Thomas Hazlehurst c.1740 – c.1821

Portrait miniature of Morecroft Kirkes RN (1783-1832), Thomas Hazlehurst
Watercolour on ivory
Oval, 1 ½ inches, 3.9cm high
By family descent.
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Gold-plated frame with pearl boarder and red presentation case. Signed with initials ‘T.H’ lower right.

Thomas Hazlehurst was born in Liverpool where he remained for the majority of his career, establishing a successful portrait miniature practice. Hazlehurst exhibited at many local galleries and institutions including the Society for Promoting Painting and Design in Liverpool as well as the Liverpool Academy between 1810-12.

During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries Liverpool played a central part in the numerous wars and conflicts through both ship building and as a recruitment base for the Royal Navy, and therefore was a lucrative place for an artist to be based – offering to record small, portable images of loved ones before they left for battle or on expeditions. Given the young appearance of Kirkes in the present miniature we are to assume it was painted around the turn of the century and therefore whilst Hazlehurst was working from no.9 Rodney Street where he lived from 1793. Rodney Street was built only ten years earlier c.1783-4 and by this point was a very affluent place to live, providing us with a hitherto unrecognised glimpse into Hazlehurst’s success in this trade.

The present sitter, Morecroft Kirkes, is painted here as a young midshipman, and although very little is known about the naval career of Kirkes, we know from family correspondence that he was present at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 and was made lieutenant on 22nd January 1806. Kirkes married an Ann Timmins in 1807 and together they had nine children, one of whom, Anne, married the great-great grandfather of the previous owner. Kirkes’ father died before he was born and his mother, Elizabeth Stockdale, went on to marry a William Wilkinson.
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