William Wood (1769-1810)
William Wood can be considered one of the most accomplished miniaturists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries...
This accomplished portrait miniature of a fashionable, young lady is typical of William Wood’s oeuvre at the turn of the nineteenth century and is reminiscent of his likenesses of Mrs Beachcroft and Mrs Hope, painted in 1800 and 1802 respectively. It is recorded in the artist’s sitter books that it took William Wood over a year to complete his portrait of Mrs Beachcroft. This is hardly surprising considering the level of detail and meticulous stippling depicted in the present portrait.
William Wood can be considered one of the most accomplished miniaturists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His portrait miniatures can be compared to the ‘greats’ of the age, including works by John Smart, Richard Cosway and George Engleheart, whilst always maintaining a unique and distinctive style.
Wood entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1785 and is known to have been working from Bristol in 1791 and 1803 and from Gloucester in 1798. Wood became an active member of the Associated Artists in Watercolour and held the position of president between 1808 and 1809, exhibiting frequently with the group. His interests in the arts lay not just in miniature painting, and in 1808 he published An Essay on National and Sepuchral Monuments as well as reputedly displaying a keen interest in landscape gardening.
In contrast to the delicate hand of John Smart, Wood’s style was broader and more confident, bestowing on his sitters a greater sense of movement, a quality not all dissimilar to the Regency portraitist Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1835). As well as portraits, Wood also painted subject and eye miniatures, larger watercolours and drawings. An acute technician, as well as a clever draughtsman, Wood experimented and managed to stabilise his colours on ivory, thus preserving the subtlest of chiaroscuro.
 W. Wood, Memorandum of Miniatures Painted and Finished by William Wood, 1790-1808, vol.II, folio 5806.