Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of a Gentleman, wearing buff-lined blue coat with large brass buttons, white shirt, his hair powdered, c.1790 

Andrew Plimer (c.1763-1837)

Portrait miniature of a Gentleman, wearing buff-lined blue coat with large brass buttons, white shirt, his hair powdered, c.1790, Andrew Plimer
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Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 60mm (2 3/8in) high
 
Original gold fausse-montre frame, the blue and glass and white enamel border set with diamonds, the reverse set with a central panel of ivory onto which is laid a lock of hair held with diamond ‘bow’, pearl border, the outer blue glass border set with flowers of diamonds.


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Born in Shropshire and apprenticed to a clockmaker, Andrew and his brother Nathaniel purportedly ran away, arriving in London in 1781 where Andrew found employment as a manservant in the household of Richard Cosway. Cosway, who by this point was a highly regarded portrait miniaturist, allowed Plimer to take lessons in painting, and a few years later in 1785 Plimer established his own practice. By the next year Plimer was exhibiting at the Royal Academy from an address in Golden Square, then a fashionable part of London, where he appears to have remained until 1810. In 1835 he retired to Brighton with his family where he died two years later.

Dating to circa 1790, the present example shows an interesting bridge between Plimer’s early technique and his later, more recognisable style. The finely worked, graphic style demonstrated in this portrait harks to his earliest works, which were usually signed. Once established, he ceased to sign his works, which became larger in scale as seen in the present work. The fine quality of the frame on this miniature suggests that it may have been an expensive commission.
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