Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a young woman in Grecian dress 1791c.

Thomas Hickey (1741-1824)

Portrait of a young woman in Grecian dress, Thomas Hickey
Oil on copper
18th Century
7 ¼ x 5 ½ inches 18.4 x 14 cm
Arthur Ackerman & Son, Inc. 408 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago; Private Collection USA
Small-scale, elegant oval portraits such as this are entirely characteristic of the paintings that Hickey produced for his clients, although the higher degree of finish and unusual support – the painting is on copper rather than the usual canvas – suggests that this painting may have had some special purpose.

The sitter’s timeless, Grecian dress may date the portrait towards the later years of the eighteenth century, and perhaps this exquisite portrait of a young woman was painted during the painter’s brief return to England in 1791, copper being a highly unsuitable material in the humid climate of India.

Thomas Hickey was born in Dublin in May 1741 and trained at the Royal Dublin Society Schools were he took prizes from 1753 to 1756. After visiting Italy c.1761-7 he returned to Dublin for three years and then moved to London, where he exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy between 1772 and 1775. By 1778 he was painting in Bath. Two years later he set out for India, where he worked prolifically as a portraitist to the soldiers and governors of the country, and as a pictorial recorder on such expeditions as that of Lord Macartney to Peking in 1792 to 1794. Visiting England briefly in June 1791 and Dublin in 1796, he returned to a successful portrait practice in Madras until his death on 20 May 1824.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.