Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Ann Hurlock (d.1837) mounted in a Louis XVI tortoiseshell and gold snuffbox 

John Smart (1741-1811)

Portrait miniature of Ann Hurlock (d.1837) mounted in a Louis XVI tortoiseshell and gold snuffbox, John Smart
Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 2 inches, 5.1cm high
S.J. Phillips, Bond Street, 1947; Private Collection, Germany.
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At the age of thirteen Smart began to enter pencil and chalk drawings for prizes at the Society of Arts, and despite coming second to Richard Cosway in the first competition, Smart persevered and went on to secure first prize in the following three. During the second half of the eighteenth century the demand for portrait miniatures increased rapidly and there soon emerged a number of highly talented, yet entirely individual artists whose work ‘in little’ became just as influential in defining an era as their larger counterparts produced by the likes of Sir Thomas Lawrence.

In direct competition to Smart was Richard Cosway (1742-1821), who opted for a more virtuoso style of painting and whose sitter’s tend to have a more overt sense of swagger about them. Smart however embraced a more delicate, meticulous style as seen in the present work and his sitter’s costumes tend to be more restrained.

Anne Hurlock was the daughter of Joseph Hurlock and Sarah Hartopp, whose father was Sir John, 4th Baron Hartopp. On 7th August 1777 Anne married Edward Bunney afterwards Sir Edmund Cradock-Hartopp 1st Bt. and it can be gathered therefor that the present work was commissioned in celebration of her marriage within the same year. Interestingly, Smart also painted Anne the year before in 1776 [Private Collection], and a comparison of the two shows the genius of Smart in portraying the married Anne with a more elegant, slimmed figure as well as wearing a more sophisticated style of dress.

Anne’s father Joseph Hurlock also served as a director of the East India Company between 1768-73, and therefore would have introduced Smart to other eminent members of the Company, no doubt playing a crucial role when applying for a permit to work in India.
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