Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of a Lady, possibly of the Hay family, wearing blue dress trimmed with lace, her hair worn upswept and decorated with pearls and white gauze 1778

John Smart (1741-1811)

Portrait miniature of a Lady, possibly of the Hay family, wearing blue dress trimmed with lace, her hair worn upswept and decorated with pearls and white gauze, John Smart
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Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 38mm (1 1/2 in.) high
 
Provenance:
Sothebys, London, 11 November 1993, lot.15 as: ‘A Lady, said to be from the Hay family’; Karin Henninger-Tavcar, 1994; Private Collection, Germany.
Converted gold bracelet clasp frame .

The sitter in this work has traditionally been identified as a lady of the Hay family, although which family named Hay remains unclear. In her 1964 monograph, Daphne Foskett lists a portrait of ‘James Hay, 13th Earl of Erroll’, although this must be incorrect as the 13th Earl of Erroll died in 1717[1]. A more plausible sitter would be James Hay, 15th Earl of Erroll (1726-78) who married twice and is believed to have had three sons and ten daughters. A potential identity for this sitter could therefore be Lady Mary Hay, daughter of the above from his first marriage to Rebecca Lockhart, who would have been aged twenty-four years of age when this work was painted.

[1]Foskett, 1964, p. 65

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