Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Charles Fitzroy, 1st Lord Southampton (1737-97), semi-profile to the left, wearing scarlet coat with blue and gold facings and brass gorget and a crimson sash 1759

Gervase Spencer (fl.1740-63)

Portrait miniature of Charles Fitzroy, 1st Lord Southampton (1737-97), semi-profile to the left, wearing scarlet coat with blue and gold facings and brass gorget and a crimson sash, Gervase Spencer
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Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 1 1/4inches (32mm) high
 
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Original gold bracelet clasp mount.

Gervase Spencer was a gentleman’s servant before discovering a talent for art. Although self-taught, his work caught the eye of George Vertue, who described him in 1740 as ‘a young man […] who […] a few years ago was in the capacity of a footman to Dr. W[…] - and now professes liming with some success […] in a curious neat manner and masterly’. His work was commissioned by the royal family, and a portrait miniature of George III is in the Royal Collection at Windsor.
This miniature shows the soldier and politician Charles Fitzroy. Fitzroy fought in the Seven Years War (1756-1763) – at the battles of Minden and Vellinghausen – before beginning a political career which resulted in a peerage in 1780. The likeness here is based on a portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds [Royal Collection], whom Spencer knew well (there is an untraced portrait by Reynolds of Spencer at work). Reynolds’ portrait of Fitzroy has traditionally been dated to 1760-1, but this newly identified miniature, dated 1759, confirms that sittings took place earlier, for Fitzroy was not in England between 1759 and 1762. The miniature may have been commissioned as a memento of Fitzroy (who had recently married) at around the time he left for war.
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