Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of a Lady with powdered hair, wearing decolette white dress with a frilled collar, c.1790 

Andrew Plimer (c.1763-1837)

Portrait miniature of a Lady with powdered hair, wearing decolette white dress with a frilled collar, c.1790, Andrew Plimer
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Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 2 Ĺ in. (64mm.) high
 
Provenance:
Private Collection
Andrew Plimer was one of the most distinctive miniaturists of the late 18th century. He was a prolific artist and much copied both during and after his lifetime. Andrew and his brother Nathaniel were the sons of a Shropshire clock maker. Having rejected their fatherís trade, they ran away to London where in 1781 Andrew became a servant to Richard Cosway. Plimer assisted Cosway in his studio with the preparation of materials, and it is thought that Cosway recognised Plimerís artistic potential and gave him lessons. In 1785 Plimer left Cosway to set up on his own and quickly established himself. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1786-1830 and built up close connections with some of the leading miniaturists of the day. Through close observation of their techniques, Plimer was able to develop his own distinctive style. He spent most of his career in London where he built up a successful reputation as a society miniaturist.
Andrew Plimerís work can be divided into two distinct phases, with those portraits painted after circa 1790 becoming more formulaic as he became more prolific. This portrait of an unknown Lady stands on the cusp of the two phases, showing Plimerís ability to convey subtle personality. The expression on the young ladyís face is delicately rendered with soft gradations of shadow which is in contrast to the more linear technique Plimer has used to depict her curled and powdered hair. The palette is soft and muted as with much of Plimerís work after 1790, and her frilled collar adds delicate movement to the portrait.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.