Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of a Lady (fl.c.1794-1812)

Alexander Gallaway (fl.c.1794-1812)

Portrait miniature of a Lady, Alexander Gallaway
Watercolour on ivory
19th Century
Oval, 2 1/2 in (64 mm) high
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Very little is known about the artist Gallaway besides that from 1794 until his death he was based in Scotland, firstly in Glasgow and then, in 1811-12, in Edinburgh. His sitters varied greatly – from the emerging Scottish middle classes to personalities such as the actor Richard Brinsley Sheridan, with examples of his work found in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The present example is a wonderfully clear example of his work and still retains the original rich colouring, achieved through Gallaway’s use of extra gum arabic in his paint. The pillar seen over the sitter’s shoulder and behind the draped curtain is a typical feature of Gallaway’s work, as are the large, almond-shaped eyes and the white, almost porcelain-like highlighting seen in the face.
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