"This portrait must have been one of Hone's first commissions after he moved to Dublin..."
The sitter of this animated portrait by the Irish artist Horace Hone remains something of a mystery. Clearly annotated on the reverse as ‘Lady Rachl. (Rachel) Tweeke’, no lady of that name can be found of marriageable age in the 1780s. In 1816 an Anne Tweeke was born to Frances and William Tweeke of Lewannick, Cornwall, England, but there is no mention of a Rachel connected to them. Nevertheless, this portrait must have been one of his first commissions after he moved to Dublin in 1782. Here he continued the early success of his earlier London career, arriving connected to the retinue of Lady Temple, Baroness Nugent of Carlanstown. It was through this formidable peeress that Hone enjoyed abundant patronage and it is likely that the sitter portrayed in this portrait was of Nugent’s circle. The year after this portrait, in 1784, Hone painted the famous tragic actress Sarah Siddons when she arrived in Dublin [National Gallery of Ireland].
Such was Hone’s success that in 1795 he was appointed miniature painter to the Prince of Wales. His successful Irish practice was badly affected by the 1800 Act of Union as many of his fashionable patrons moved to London after this date. In 1804 he returned to London but suffered increasing bouts of mental instability. A letter from Hone, now in the archives of the Royal Academy and dated 1820 shows him pleading for a pension in the face of financial ruin. This was duly awarded, together with a donation of £50. Hone died in 1825 in Dover Street, Mayfair.