Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of a Lady, wearing white dress with frilled collar and blue bodice, a blue and white bandeau in her curled and powdered hair 

George Engleheart (1750/3-1829)

Portrait miniature of a Lady, wearing white dress with frilled collar and blue bodice, a blue and white bandeau in her curled and powdered hair, George Engleheart
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Watercolour on ivory
Oval, 1 3/8 inches, 36mm high
 
Provenance:
English Private Collection.
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George Engleheart pioneered portrait painting in late eighteenth century England through dynamic compositions which gave his sitters energetic appearances and plenty of swagger.

Engleheart’s rather decorative style flattered his sitters and as a result there was great demand for his work; his fee books from 1775 to 1813 recording no less than 4,853 miniatures (2,000 in the 1780’s alone). Despite this prodigious output, he maintained a very high standard. His style developed gradually over a long career that can be divided into three periods. During his early phase of about five years his miniatures were small and in the ‘modest school’ style before he really developed his own technique. By the 1780’s, his middle phase, he had gained in confidence and his characteristic and highly accomplished style evolved. His sitters were painted with large deep eyes and a cool flesh tone. After about 1795, Engleheart painted on larger ivories, and the familiar oval shape was frequently abandoned in favour of a rectangle. He often used a more somber palette to model his sitters’ features and the portraits became more honest and less flamboyant.

The present work, dateable to the 1780’s shows Engleheart’s consistently strong sense of line and colour and when combined, as noticeable on the sitter’s blue bodice, the effect is quite tangible. The busy network of linear shading visible in the sitter’s hair to the right also gives weight to the composition and balances it out with the protruding edge of the high lace collar on the left.
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