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Zoomable Image of Portrait miniature of a young Nobleman, wearing dark blue coat with gold brocade, pale green waistcoat and white lace shirt, his powdered wig ‘bagged’ with black silk, c.1760

Portrait miniature of a young Nobleman, wearing dark blue coat with gold brocade, pale green waistcoat and white lace shirt, his powdered wig ‘bagged’ with black silk, c.1760

Italian School

Portrait miniature of a young Nobleman, wearing dark blue coat with gold brocade, pale green waistcoat and white lace shirt, his powdered wig ‘bagged’ with black silk, c.1760

Italian School

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Price:

£4,500

Materials:

Watercolour and gouache on card

Dimensions:

Oval, 3 1/2 in (90 mm) high

Frame:

Later gilded metal frame with a reeded edge

The face is particularly expressive and in this it would appear that the artist had some knowledge of the work of Jean-Etienne Liotard...

This impressively large portrait miniature presents a young nobleman, richly dressed in an expensively brocaded frock-coat and silk waistcoat and wearing a formal, powdered wig. Although it has not been possible to discover the identity of the sitter, he has the assured air of a wealthy grand-tourist, visiting Italy to complete his cultural education.

Possibly painted in Rome, this portrait owes much to the opulent portraits of Pompeo Batoni (1708-87), whose patrons wished to appear as the ‘learned, cultivated, yet leisured aristocrats’[1] they believed themselves to be. The more formal wig worn by the sitter, for which the black ribbon used to tie the bag of the wig can be seen around the sitter’s neck, was not generally worn by young Englishmen around this date and the sitter may in fact be Italian.[2]

The painting method of watercolour and bodycolour on card is unusual for this date, when most portrait miniatures were painted on a thick piece of ivory. The face is particularly expressive and in this it would appear that the artist had some knowledge of the work of Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702-89). The modelling of the sitter’s face is close to Liotard’s male portraits of the 1750s, including his 1756 pastel portrait of Jan Maximiliaan van Tuyll van Serooskerken [Private Collection]. The unusual format and medium in this skilfully painted portrait suggest that this work is by a professional oil painter experimenting in scale and technique.



[1] E. Peters Bowron and P. Björn Kerber, ‘Pompeo Batoni, Prince of Painters in Eighteenth century Rome’, New Haven and London, 2008, p. 52

[2] Young English sitters in the early 1760s wore their own hair, unpowdered and curled at the sides to resemble a wig. The formal wig in this portrait is more usually seen on an older sitter or used to indicate professional status.

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