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Zoomable Image of Portrait miniature of a Lady, wearing white dress with frilled collar and yellow waistband, her hair powdered and with white bandeau

Portrait miniature of a Lady, wearing white dress with frilled collar and yellow waistband, her hair powdered and with white bandeau

Attributed to John Downman A.R.A. (1750-1824)

Portrait miniature of a Lady, wearing white dress with frilled collar and yellow waistband, her hair powdered and with white bandeau

Attributed to John Downman A.R.A. (1750-1824)

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Price:

£5,900

Materials:

Watercolour on ivory

Dimensions:

Oval, 2 3/4 in (70 mm) high

Provenance:

English Private Collection.

Frame:

Gold frame with blue and white enamel border and matching hanger, the reverse with gold monogram RB on plaited brown hair and white striped enamel border

This portrait is an example of Downman’s distinctively lively characterisation – showing the sitter slightly turned away from the viewer, a smile playing on her lips…

John Downman rarely ventured into painting watercolour miniatures on ivory. Miniatures required more laborious work than the small chalk and watercolour portraits for which he gained a fashionable following.

Born in Wales, Downman studied under Benjamin West, president of the Royal Academy. In 1773 he travelled to Italy with the artist Joseph Wright of Derby. He was something of a peripatetic artist, moving from Cambridge to London and with periodic spells in the West Country. From about 1804 he lived at West Malling in Kent and from 1806 to 1807 in Exeter. Thereafter he was based in London, but made trips to Northumberland and Yorkshire (1811 and 1812) and to Oxford (1814, 1818). He exhibited publicly for the last time in 1819 and retired to Chester in the same year. He then moved to back to his birthplace of North Wales, where he died in 1824.

This portrait of an unknown lady is an example of Downman’s distinctively lively characterisation – showing the sitter slightly turned away from the viewer, a smile playing on her lips. Painted circa 1785, this portrait would have been commissioned at the height of his career, when his sitter’s included such modish sitters as the Duchess of Devonshire.


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