portrait of a young lady possibly elizabeth beauclerk c1786 circle of richard cosway

Portrait of a Young Lady, possibly Elizabeth Beauclerk c.1786; Circle of Richard Cosway.


Price

SOLD

Item Ref

8829

Description

Oval oil on canvas in reproduction late 18th century frame.
A charming and high quality portrait of a lovely young woman of the Late Georgian period; her artfully arranged hair and Empire line dress were the height of fashion at this time.
It has been suggested by Amy Jane Adams, descendant of Elizabeth, that she is the sitter. Certainly there is a resemblance between our sitter and the slightly older married Elizabeth depicted in Beechey's portrait (image 5).
ELIZABETH BEAUCLERK (1766Ė1793) Elizabeth was the daughter of Diana and Topham Beauclerk (pronounced 'Bo-Clare'). Their combined lineage forms an impressive family tree: Elizabeth's great-great grandparents on her fatherís side were Charles II and his mistress Nell Gwyn, and on her motherís side Elizabeth was connected to two of the greatest aristocratic families in the country. Diana Beauclerk was the eldest daughter of Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough and Dianaís younger sister, also called Elizabeth, married into the Herbert family, Dukes of Pembroke. In 1787 the bonds between the two families were strengthened further when Elizabeth Beauclerk married her first cousin, George, Lord Herbert. In 1794 George inherited his fatherís titles and became 11th Earl of Pembroke and 8th Earl of Montgomery, and Elizabeth the Countess.
Our thanks to Amy Jane Adams, fine artist and historian, for her suggestion as to the identity of the sitter. Elizabeth Beauclerk was her ancestress.
RICHARD COSWAY 1742Ė1821.
Although remembered primarily as a miniaturist, Cosway also painted oil portraits and, occasionally, subject pictures. Christened at the parish church of Oakford, near Tiverton in Devon, he was a child prodigy. He came to London in 1754, where he studied for a few months with Hudson and then at Shipley's Drawing School, winning a series of prizes for drawing from the Society of Arts between 1755 and 1760. He exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1760 and from 1767 to 1769, then at the Free Society of Artists from 1761 to 1766. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1769, becoming an Associate in 1770 and a Royal Academician in 1771.
He exhibited at the Academy from 1770 to 1806. He became increasingly successful and fashionable as a painter of miniatures during the 1760s. His most notable portrait miniature of this period was that of Miss Elliot in the Character of Pallas (Fondazione Cosway, Lodi), which was exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1769.
Cosway was a diminuitive, flamboyant figure with a reputation for arrogance and womanising. He was often the subject of caricature, but his self-confidence and wit were such that he was able to deflect the derision he received from his artistic peers.
In 1781 he married the Anglo-Florentine artist Maria Hadfield (1759-1838). They lived first at 4 Berkeley Street and then at Schomberg House in Pall Mall, where they entertained lavishly and became the epitome of the smart London set. Their high social profile and self-promotion led to targeting by satirists. From 1785 Cosway often signed his works Primarius Pictor Serenissimi Walliae Principis ('Principal painter of his most serene Prince of Wales'), and frequented royal circles. He produced several notable life-sized portraits of the Courtenay family at Powderham Castle, including William, 3rd Viscount Courtenay (1791, Coll. Lord Courtenay). In addition, Cosway was an important collector of old master paintings, drawings and prints, sculpture and objets d'art. He died in London.
SIZE: 33 x 26.75 inches inc. frame.
PROVENANCE: Sussex private collection.
Internal Ref: 8829



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