Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of a Lady, wearing lace-edged pink dress with green lining and white satin mantle, her hair worn up and decorated with pearls with a falling ringlet around her neck 

John Smart (1741-1811)

Portrait miniature of a Lady, wearing lace-edged pink dress with green lining and white satin mantle, her hair worn up and decorated with pearls with a falling ringlet around her neck, John Smart
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Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 48mm (1 7/8 in.) high
 
Provenance:
Karin Henninger-Tavcar, 1995; Private Collection, Germany.
The emergence of this work allows us to further develop our understanding of Smart’s practices, and in particular his production of secondary versions - a topic barely touched upon.

It is known that Smart sometimes produced second versions of his portraits, nearly always painted within a few years of each other (for an example, see Cat.23), and not twelve years apart, as seen in this case. Although the flesh tones in this example are much finer than the earlier version which appeared on the London Art Market in 2008 [1]. They follow the same design, the only variation being the falling locks of hair which in this example can be seen on the sitter’s shoulder and below the sitter’s right ear, but in the earlier work are absent entirely.

There are a number of possible reasons for this delay in producing another version – perhaps, for example, the sitter passed away at a young age and the family wanted another likeness taken from her youth. The existence of preparatory drawings in Smart's studio after his death (which were eventually dispersed at auction by his descendants) suggests that he kept these in order to produce a secondary version should this be requested. Another conceivable reason may have been that the initial likeness was lost, although the close similarity in colouring suggests a direct copy from a primary version.

[1] Christie’s, London, 9 December 2008, lot 191.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.