Zoomable Image of Portrait enamel of a Lady, c.1710-15

Portrait enamel of a Lady, c.1710-15

Christian Friedrich Zincke (c.1684-1767)

Portrait enamel of a Lady, c.1710-15

Christian Friedrich Zincke (c.1684-1767)

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Rectangular, 2 ⅜ x 1 13⁄16 in (60 x 46 mm) high


Bonhams, London, 21 November 2007, lot 117; Private collection, UK

Zincke’s confidence is expressed in the unusually large scale of this enamel...

This highly unusual rectangular portrait enamel by Christian Friedrich Zincke gives unprecedented insight into the artist’s early career as an enamellist.

Zincke settled in England in 1706, following an invitation from Charles Boit (1662-1727), enamellist to William III, who needed assistance completing a large scale enamel commemorating the victory at the Battle of Blenheim.[1] Zincke studied under Boit for several years before establishing his own studio, and his earliest known signed enamel miniature is – most appropriately – a portrait of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough [Royal Collection], 1711, which derives from a head and shoulders portrait by Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723) painted years earlier, in 1691.

The present work is perhaps typical of what one might expect from an aspiring young artist. Zincke’s confidence is expressed in the relatively large scale of this enamel, however, his approach to the composition is more measured and reveals his indebtedness to the work of Sir Godfrey Kneller – the unrivalled portrait painter in oils during this period.[2] The raised arm was one of Kneller’s trademark gestures at this date, and Zincke uses this design in synchrony with an extensive landscape background, which although more highly pitched, bears a striking resemblance to a design of background much favoured by his previous master Boit.[3]

By the late 1720s, the royal family were regularly commissioning Zincke to paint their portraits and he was made Cabinet Painter to Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1732. Zincke was well-liked by his patrons: George II, who disliked sitting for portraits, enjoyed Zincke’s company and greatly admired his craftsmanship. The fact that he got on well with both George II and his son Frederick (with whom George had a volatile relationship) is testament to Zincke’s amiable temperament.

Due to deteriorating eyesight, Zincke’s career ended prematurely in the 1740s, although he had established himself as one of the most prolific and successful portrait enamellists of the eighteenth century, and his work is held in a number of major national collections, including the Ashmolean Museum, the Royal Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

[1] D. Foskett, Miniatures: Dictionary and Guide (Woodbridge, 1987), p.682

[2] For example the portrait of a lady sold at Christie’s, London, 24 February 2005, lot 11.

[3] For example the portrait of a young lady with folded hands, which sold through Christie’s, London, Important Gold Boxes & Portrait Miniatures, 12 June 2006, lot 48.

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