Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of a Gentleman, wearing pinkish-red coat, with matching waistcoat and white lace stock, his hair powdered and worn en queue with black ribbon 

Richard Cosway RA (1742-1821)

Portrait miniature of a Gentleman, wearing pinkish-red coat, with matching waistcoat and white lace stock, his hair powdered and worn en queue with black ribbon, Richard Cosway
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Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 33mm (1 ¼ in.) high
 
Later gilt-metal locket frame


This miniature is typical of Cosway’s early work and would have been painted during the mid 1760s when he was establishing himself as a professional artist in London. Arriving in the city in 1754, Cosway was trained at the drawing school owned by William Shipley (1715-1803). This was a fortunate apprenticeship, as Shipley, a devoted philanthropist, was extremely influential in the arts. Cosway’s talent was first brought to the attention of a wider, admiring public with his miniature of ‘Mrs Draper’, painted some years after the present miniature in 1767.

In the 1760s, Cosway’s specific path as an artist was undecided and he was still described as ‘Portrait Painter’ (as opposed to ‘Miniature Painter’) in The Universal Director of 1763. The size of this miniature reflects the fashion of the time for wearing miniatures as bracelets or in lockets. The tones used in the face of the sitter are akin to Cosway’s portrait drawings, which he executed with some regularity throughout his career. Even in this early example, his talent and elegance are unmistakable.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.