Andrew Plimer (1763-1837)
By the time this portrait was painted, Plimer was firmly established as a professional artist with a highly distinctive style, characterised by meticulously drawn hair and stylised, if a little elongated, facial features...
This portrait miniature of a member of the Keighley family is a fine example of Andrew Plimer’s work from the 1790s. Plimer’s portraits painted at this date are inherently influenced by his master, Richard Cosway (1742-1821), who introduced and championed the sky background in portrait miniature painting in the late eighteenth century.
Andrew and Nathaniel Plimer were the sons of a Shropshire clockmaker. Together the brothers decided against joining the family business and fled from home to accompany a group of gypsies who were touring Wales and the West Country – the pair travelled with them for two years. Finally settling in London, Nathaniel worked for the enamellist Henry Bone, whilst Andrew went into domestic service for Richard Cosway from 1781. Cosway took an interest in the young man and allowed him to train with him; he may have even sponsored Plimer’s drawing lessons with John Hall, an engraver in Soho.
From 1785, Plimer was able to set up an independent studio and exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts between 1786 and 1819. In 1801 he married Joanna Louisa Knight and had five children. The family travelled through Devon and Cornwall until 1815, when Plimer worked in Exeter, and after returning to London, they travelled to Scotland in search of new patrons. Plimer retired to Brighton in 1835 and died there; he was buried in Hove.
By the time this portrait was painted, Plimer was firmly established as a professional artist with a highly distinctive style, characterised by meticulously drawn hair and stylised, if a little elongated, facial features. Stylistically, this portrait is comparable to that of The Hon. Anne Rushout in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and a portrait of Lady Louisa Grey, previously with Philip Mould & Co. Miniatures by Plimer are also in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Museum of Cleveland in Ohio.
 J. Aronson, M.E Wieseman, A Perfect Likeness: European and American Portrait Miniatures from the Cincinnati Art Museum, (New Haven, 2006), p.257.
 L.R. Schidlof, The Miniature in Europe, (Graz, 1964), pp.642-3.
 R. Bayne-Powell, Catalogue of Portrait Miniatures in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, (Cambridge, 1985), p.181.