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Zoomable Image of Portrait miniature of an Officer, wearing red coatee with green facings and yellow waistcoat, both with silver buttons, black stock and white chemise, his hair worn en queue, c.1755

Portrait miniature of an Officer, wearing red coatee with green facings and yellow waistcoat, both with silver buttons, black stock and white chemise, his hair worn en queue, c.1755

Andrew Benjamin Lens (c.1713 - after 1779)

Portrait miniature of an Officer, wearing red coatee with green facings and yellow waistcoat, both with silver buttons, black stock and white chemise, his hair worn en queue, c.1755

Andrew Benjamin Lens (c.1713 - after 1779)

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Price:

£3,500

Materials:

Watercolour on ivory

Dimensions:

Oval, 1 ¼ in (32 mm) high

Provenance:

Private Collection, UK.

Frame:

Gold frame with pearl border and gold duke’s coronet surrounded by pearls and garnets. The reverse engraved with a baron’s coronet surmounting the monogram ‘B’

This highly finished portrait miniature, encased in its original simple frame, has been elevated by the addition of a later, more ornate frame with a pearl border and ducal coronet...

Although the identity of Andrew Benjamin Lens’ subject is not known, the coronet surmounting the decorated pearl frame suggests he was a duke. A ducal coronet is formed of decorative strawberry leaves, equally spaced around a gold circlet. Traditionally, when a duke’s coronet is depicted, only three leaves can be seen, as is the case here.[1]

The uniform worn by the officer, with a combination of a yellow laced waistcoat with a green faced coat, is highly unusual and thus far, no regiment has been identified. Interestingly, a portrait by Thomas Gainsborough of an unknown gentleman, wearing the same uniform, was sold by Christie’s in 2010.[2]

Andrew Benjamin Lens was the son of Bernard Lens III (1682-1740), the first artist in Britain to paint miniatures on ivory and miniature painter to George I and II and drawing master to the royal family. Horace Walpole was an amateur pupil of Bernard Lens and he taught Sarah Stanley, daughter of the king’s physician Sir Hans Sloane. Andrew Benjamin was, like his father, a copyist and works by him exist after Hans Holbein and Thomas Hudson (British Museum). He would have been well briefed in the different areas covered by his father’s work, who as well as painting portraits produced copies of old masters and taught both drawing and business at the various academies for young gentlemen that peppered London at this time.

Some confusion surrounds the various members of the Lens family but at his death George Vertue notes Bernard Lens as leaving behind two sons (one of whom must have been Andrew Benjamin, the other probably Peter Paul) who were described as ‘professors of the Art of Painting limning—&c.’ (Vertue, Note books, 3.100).

This highly finished portrait miniature, encased in its original simple frame, has been elevated by the addition of a later, more ornate frame with a pearl border and ducal coronet. These later additions would have almost certainly been added after the gentleman’s advancement from baron to a dukedom.

We are grateful to Christopher Bryant for his assistance when cataloguing this work.



[1] C.N. Elvin, Dictionary of Heraldry (2009), p.52.

[2] Christie’s, London, Old Masters & 19th Century Paintings, Drawings & Watercolours, 7th December 2010, lot 28.

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