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Zoomable Image of Portrait miniature of an Officer, wearing scarlet coat with blue collar, gold epaulette, white waistcoat and frilled shirt, his hair powdered and worn en queue

Portrait miniature of an Officer, wearing scarlet coat with blue collar, gold epaulette, white waistcoat and frilled shirt, his hair powdered and worn en queue

Jeremiah Meyer R.A. 1735-1789

Portrait miniature of an Officer, wearing scarlet coat with blue collar, gold epaulette, white waistcoat and frilled shirt, his hair powdered and worn en queue

Jeremiah Meyer R.A. 1735-1789

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Price:

£3,750

Materials:

Watercolour on ivory

Dimensions:

2 in (51 mm) high

Provenance:

Private collection UK

Frame:

Gold frame, the gold reverse with aperture glazed to reveal plaited hair

As one of the founder members of the Royal Academy, which opened in 1769, Meyer was one of a new generation of miniaturists who would present their art form in direct competition with oil painters...

Jeremiah Meyer was born in Germany and moved to England at an early age, settling in London. His early training was with the enamellist Christian Friedrich Zincke but he was one of the first miniaturists to really exploit the medium of ivory, using transparent washes to allow the delicate tones of the ivory to show luminescent through the paint. As seen in this example, he built up layers of paint using short, straight strokes which showed his exemplary skill as a draughtsman.


Meyer was the oldest of a group of artists, including Richard Cosway, John Smart and Richard Crosse, all born around the same date, who took lessons at William Shipley 's new drawing school, the first such establishment in London. After his expensive apprenticeship with Zincke, it seems that he also spent time at the informal St. Martin's Lane 'Academy' run by William Hogarth. [1] As one of the founder members of the Royal Academy, which opened in 1769, Meyer was one of a new generation of miniaturists who would present their art form in direct competition with oil painters. In 1764, Meyer was appointed miniature painter to Queen Charlotte and painter in enamel to King George III and a decade later, around the time the present portrait was painted, one critic noted ‘[His] miniatures excell all others in pleasing Expression, Variety of Tints and Freedom of Execution’. [2]

The present work compares closely to a portrait of an officer in the Victoria and Albert Museum [P.8-1960] of an officer called John Smith Budgen. The tonal shading of the sky in both portraits effectively pushes the sitter into the front plane, an effective visual tool for this type of intimate portrait.



[1] In 1757 Meyer’s father had paid C. F. Zincke the substantial sum of £200 to teach his 14-year-old son Jeremiah the lucrative art of enamel painting, with an additional £200 for materials.

[2] J. Murdoch, J. Murrell, P.J. Noon and Roy Strong, The English Miniature, London, 1981, p.180 (originally quoted by Basil Long, in British Miniaturists, 1929)

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