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Zoomable Image of Portrait miniature of a Gentleman, wearing brown coat and white tied cravat, his hair powdered and worn en queue, c. 1795

Portrait miniature of a Gentleman, wearing brown coat and white tied cravat, his hair powdered and worn en queue, c. 1795

Andrew Plimer (1763-1837)

Portrait miniature of a Gentleman, wearing brown coat and white tied cravat, his hair powdered and worn en queue, c. 1795

Andrew Plimer (1763-1837)

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Price:

£3,200

Materials:

Watercolour on ivory

Dimensions:

Oval, 2 3/8 in (62 mm) high

Provenance:

Bonhams, 25th June 2002, lot 96; English Private Collection.

Frame:

Gold frame with engraved border, the reverse with blue glass border around glazed aperture to reveal seed pearl initials 'ERJ' on plaited brown hair

Plimer produces a careful likeness, detailing the hint of a smile on the sitter’s lips...

This portrait miniature is a typical example of Andrew Plimer’s work at this period. His confident, elongated brushstrokes defining the sitter’s coat, and the luminous quality of the bare ivory used to highlight the eyes, hair and cravat, are reminiscent of the portrait of James Daniell in the V&A collection [P.90-1910].

Although the identity of this gentleman is not known, Plimer produces a careful likeness, detailing the hint of a smile on the sitter’s lips. The initials created by seed pearls on the reverse of this miniature would have almost certainly been those of the sitter, rather than the initials of the recipient of this portrait.

Andrew Plimer was born in Wellington in Shropshire to a clockmaker and his wife. Expected to enter the family trade, Andrew and his brother Nathaniel reputedly ran away from their home town, travelling with gypsies for a time before arriving in London in 1781. Andrew entered employment as a manservant to Richard Cosway, one of the leading miniaturists of the eighteenth century. Cosway must have been extremely fond of Plimer, as having expressed an interest in the art of miniature painting, Cosway paid for drawing lessons for his young servant and endeavoured to train him. Plimer established his own practise in 1785 in Maddox Street before moving to Golden Square one year later, then a highly fashionable part of the city. Plimer appears to have travelled around; in 1801 he was working throughout Devon and Cornwall, in 1815 he lived in Exeter and in 1835 he moved to Brighton where he died two years later.

The present work, dating to c.1795, has retained the soft blue colours of the sky and the rich flesh tones which are so often faded in portrait miniatures of this period. This portrait is a good example of Plimer’s more confident work but still retains the detail and character sometimes lost in his later, more formulaic works.

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