Werner Hassel (fl.1674-1710)
Hassel's popularity can be seen in the fact that engravings and mezzotints were made of his work...
The subject of this portrait miniature by Werner Hassel is in-tune with the most cutting-edge fashions of his day. Shown wearing an elaborate full-bottomed wig and a rich, blue ribbon tied behind an elegant lace cravat, the sitter seems to be following the trends that emanated from the court of Louis XIV, Le Roi Soleil.
Born in Germany, Hassel came to London in the late seventeenth century to train under the pre-eminent court painter of that time, Sir Godfrey Kneller. The latter seems to have been impressed by his gifted young pupil, painting his portrait in 1700 in a likeness that was subsequently engraved by Pieter Schenck the Elder
Described by Schidlof as ‘a skilful artist whose works are rare’ (a judgement that is echoed by Daphne Foskett), Hassel demonstrated versatility in his ability to work with watercolours and enamels on a miniature scale and to create full-length likenesses in oils. Although little is known of his life, his popularity can be seen in the fact that engravings and mezzotints were made of his work, including, for instance, J. Witt’s engraving after Hassel’s portrait of John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar, leader of the Jacobite forces at the disastrous Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715. Diarist George Vertue, writing in the mid-eighteenth century, states that Hassel trained the prominent landscape artist, George Lambert; until further evidence for this claim is discovered, this must remain tantalisingly unconfirmed yet the anecdote does provide a telling example of the high stead in which Hassel’s work was held by his contemporaries. Hassel’s work is represented in major collections, such as those of the Victoria and Albert Museum and of the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum.