Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Cymbeline, King of the South-East of England 1809

George Dawe 

Portrait of Cymbeline, King of the South-East of England, George Dawe
Oil on canvas
19th Century
79 x 40 inches 200.6 x 101.6 cm
Private collection, Folkestone, Kent.
George Dawe was the son of the artist Philip Dawe, and was born in London. His initial training was as an engraver, and several of these early engravings were published. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1794 where he was notably studious, but abandoned engraving at the age of 21 to concentrate on History Painting. He gained the Academy's gold medal aged 22 for his Achilles frantic for the loss of Patroclus.

He soon won two further premiums, of 50 and 122 for his historical works, but by 1811 had given up the genre for portraiture. By this time he had been elected ARA (in 1809) and became a full member in 1814. His career then took him to the Continent, where he painted many of the portraits of the heroes of Waterloo, and was further engaged by the Emperor of Russia; arriving in St Petersburg in 1819 and going on to paint some 400 portraits of distinguished Russian sitters for the Hermitage. He died on his return to England in 1829 leaving a fortune of 100,000.

It is possible that this painting is the Scene from Cymbeline which won Dawe the 50 premium that was awarded by the Directors of the British Institution in 1809. Cymbeline (recte, Cunobellinus, son of Tasciovanus, King of the Catevellauni at Verulanium) was the King of the South-East of England until c.43AD. According to Shakespeare''s play loosely based on what is known of his career, he fought a heroic battle with invading Romans.

This exceptionally rare History Piece by Dawe is amongst the finest examples of the genre of the period, and amply illustrates the powers of this gifted young artist, so little known in the UK because of his long sojourn in Russia. The painting is accepted as autograph by Galina Andreeva, senior researcher of the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, who is preparing a catalogue raisonne of the artist''s work.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.