Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a huntsman c. 1770 1790s

Philip Wickstead 

Portrait of a huntsman c. 1770, Philip Wickstead
Oil on canvas
18th Century
36 x 28 inches 91.5 x 71 cm
This portrait of a young gentleman wearing what is perhaps green hunt livery, is attributable by its distinctive characterization to Philip Wickstead, a painter best known for the career that he made for himself painting the planters of eighteenth century Jamaica. Wickstead's early training was perhaps conducted in the studio of Johan Zoffany.

This is suggested by the execution of portraits such as Edward East of Jamaica and his family (Sotheby's London February 18th 1953 lot 125) and confirmed by the fact that on his arrival in Rome from England in 1768 he was known as a ''pupil of Zoffany''1. In Rome he enjoyed some success with portraits if British tourists, and remained there for some five years, finally returning to England in 1773.

In the following year he was taken by William Beckford of Somerley to Jamaica , where he remained under Beckford's patronage until 1786. His work there consists of portraits of the local planters, and he sent pictures home from Jamaica for exhibition in London at the Society of Artists, including^ Mulatto Woman teaching needlework to Negro girls, exhibited as number 159 in 1777.

Wickstead left Jamaica with Beckford, and no work is known by him after his departure in 1786. It is believed that he became an alcoholic and died shortly before 1790.

This portrait is typical is Wickstead's direct and unpretentious style. The green suit is treated with simple elegance, and detail is limited to the meticulous treatment of the figured silver buttons and the hunting horn that the young man is carrying.

1. Ellis Waterhouse Dictionary of Eighteenth Century Painters Antiques Collectors'' Club 1981
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