Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Elizabeth Juliana Monro (or Munro) (1768-1804), wearing black dress with sleeves slashed to reveal white, white lace collar, a wide-brimmed plumed hat over her powdered hair 

George Engleheart (1750/3-1829)

Portrait miniature of Elizabeth Juliana Monro (or Munro) (1768-1804), wearing black dress with sleeves slashed to reveal white, white lace collar, a wide-brimmed plumed hat over her powdered hair, George Engleheart
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Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 2 1/8 in (53 mm) high
 
Provenance:
By family descent Private Collection, USA
Literature:
G. C. Williamson, George Engleheart 1750-1829 Miniature Painter to George III, London 1902, listed in fee book as painted 1786 (‘Mrs Monro’)
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This striking portrait was painted during the 1780s when Engleheart was practising independently as a miniaturist in London. The influence of Sir Joshua Reynolds, to whom he was apprenticed from 1773-1776 is clear even on this small scale. During his apprenticeship, Engleheart learned his craft by copying Reynolds’ large scale oils into miniature.

Born at Kew, he enrolled in the Royal Academy schools in 1769, after a period working with the landscape painter George Barret. Once an independent miniaturist, Engleheart enjoyed virtual overnight success and from 1775 ran one of the most successful studios in the country. He was prolific – his fee book records almost thirty sittings on some days – and his forty-year career maintained virtually the same consistent pace throughout. His careful draughtsmanship and rapid drawing from the life make his portraits some of the most lively and attractive from the period.

He attracted wealthly and important clientele and by 1776 had already painted George III several times (he would paint the king over twenty-five times during his career). In 1789, on the death of Jeremiah Meyer, he was officially appointed miniature painter to the king.

This portrait of Mrs Munro dates from the middle part of his career, characterised by his bold but light handling of brushwork. As here, he often flattered his sitters with large, beautiful eyes. His sitters were often fashionable ladies and he seems to have delighted in describing in paint their wide-brimmed hats and beribboned gowns.

Engleheart surrounded himself with like-minded, educated individuals, including artists and poets. His close circle of friends included William Hayley, George Romney, William Blake, John Flaxman, and Jeremiah Meyer.

His work, and that of his pupils Thomas Richmond and John Cox Dillman Engleheart, is well represented in most major national and international museums. In his book English Portrait Miniatures, Graham Reynolds placed Engleheart firmly in the group of ‘late eighteenth-century miniaturists of the first rank’.
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