Henry Edridge ARA (1769-1821)
Edridge successfully captures the start of a breaking smile across the sitter's lips. This portrait is delicately painted but uses broader brushstrokes to depict the sky and drapery, as was typical of the artist’s style in the 1790s...
This tender portrait miniature by Henry Edridge of an animated young girl, traditionally identified as Mary Welsh, is reminiscent of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s child portraits. Edridge attended the Royal Academy Schools from 1784 where he impressed Reynolds, the then President of the Royal Academy, with copies after his paintings.
In the present miniature, Edridge is almost certainly influenced by Reynolds’ portrait of Frances George Hare [Louvre, Paris], considered to be the most famous painting by Reynolds in France. Like Edridge, Reynolds shows the young master in a white dress, tied with a sash and set in a landscape, with the same air of informality. Edridge also concentrates on an informal pose with the child’s dress sliding down her shoulder and her arms reaching out beyond the limits of the frame. He successfully captures the start of a breaking smile across her lips. This portrait is delicately painted but uses broader brushstrokes to depict the sky and drapery, as was typical of Edridge’s style in the 1790s.
Born in Paddington in London in 1769, Henry Edridge was apprenticed to William Pether, a mezzotint engraver, at the age of fifteen. Showing a talent for meticulous detail, he attended the Royal Academy Schools and established his own studio in Soho, the year of his marriage. He became acquainted and later influenced by the landscape watercolourist Thomas Hearne. In the years that followed Edridge included landscapes in his watercolour portraits, particularly silver birches, which are possibly the autumn trees depicted in background Mary Welsh’s portrait. It was through Hearne that Edridge met Dr Thomas Monro, who invited him to attend his unofficial drawing school with J.M.W Turner in 1794 at the Adelphi Terrace.
Edridge is well-known for his full-length watercolour portraits which he started in 1790, at the time this portrait miniature was completed, and he continued to work on them between 1805 and 1810. In 1805 he was invited to Windsor to draw the princesses for the queen. Several drawings by Edridge are in the Royal Collection and include portraits of Princesses Augusta, Amelia, Elizabeth and Sophia, all dating between 1802 and 1805. Towards the end of Edridge’s life he spent a considerable amount of time in France, particularly in Normandy and Paris where he illustrated Gothic churches. Having been rejected as a member of the Royal Academy as a watercolourist, by Thomas Lawrence, Edridge was finally made an Associate of the Royal Academy a year before his death.
After his death, Edridge left an extensive oeuvre with portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, V&A, Ashmolean Museum and Fitzwilliam Museum, amongst others.