George Engleheart (1750/3-1829)
Painted, judging from the technique, costume and hairstyle, to the early years of Engleheart’s career, the simplicity of the sitter’s profile is balanced by the dramatic veil falling from her upswept hair.
The sitter in this exquisitely detailed profile portrait by George Engleheart is possibly portrayed in her wedding dress and veil. Painted, judging from the technique, costume and hairstyle, to the early years of Engleheart’s career, the simplicity of the sitter’s profile is balanced by the dramatic veil falling from her upswept hair...
Engleheart’s initial training came from the unlikely coupling with the Irish-born landscape painter George Barret (c.1730-1787), and later with the more fitting, and evidentially impressionable, Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792). Engleheart entered the R.A schools in 1769 and by 1773 had exhibited his first work. The present portrait can be dated to the earliest sittings recorded in his fee book, which he began in 1775 and clearly shows the influence of Reynolds’ dramatic shading in his larger oils.
Engleheart enjoyed a prosperous career, exhibiting some eighty-five portrait miniatures at the R.A until 1822, his account books recording up to thirty sittings on some days. He surrounded himself with like-minded, educated individuals, including artists and poets. His close circle of friends included William Hayley, George Romney, William Blake, John Flaxman, and Jeremiah Meyer. Engleheart attracted wealthy and important clientele and by 1776 had already painted George III several times (he would paint the king over twenty-five times during his career). In 1789, on the death of Jeremiah Meyer, he was officially appointed miniature painter to the king.
The present portrait shows connections with Reynolds’ portraits of society women of this period, particularly his portraits of Lady Worsley, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and Jane Fleming, later Countess of Harrington. It is probable that much of Engleheart’s early success depended on his emulation and translation of these fashionable oil portraits ‘in little’.