Samuel Collins (1735–68)
Collins’s status in Bath as an artist was confirmed by his own portrait being painted by his friend Thomas Gainsborough, also resident in the city...
Collins was a Bristol born painter, who turned his talents to painting miniatures after studying law. The present work is particularly ambitious within his oeuvre, as he usually confined himself to painting the face only, as seen in his portrait of a young girl dated 1756 in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art [B1974.2.11]. Painted circa 1760, the young lady is depicted wearing the height of fashion. The portrait perfectly encapsulates the requirements of the modish visitor to Bath for the season, where Collins established his practice.
Collins was both an excellent enamellist and a painter in watercolour on ivory. His commissions included portraits of George III [exh. South Kensington Museum Exhibition, 1865] and Princess Amelia [Pierpont Morgan collection, New York]. His pupils included the talented Ozias Humphry, who worked with Collins for two years in Bath. Collins’ status in Bath as an artist was confirmed by his own portrait being painted by his friend Thomas Gainsborough, also resident in the city. It is possible that the impetus for Gainsborough’s smaller scale portraits, painted during his time in Bath, was his friendship with the circle of miniaturists who served the city. The friendship between Gainsborough and Collins is further confirmed by the existence of a landscape drawing given to the miniaturist and now in the British Museum [Gg,3.389].
Like Gainsborough, Collins was concerned with accurate likenesses for his sitters, and appears to have achieved considerable success in this area. Writing from Bath, a Mrs Luttrell exclaims on the success of her husband’s portrait miniature painted by Collins: ‘I waited this morning on Mr Collins where I had ye Pleasure my dear of looking on your Face, & tomorrow evening I shall have you in my own Possession, & then I can view you as often as I please, & really it’s a great satisfaction to look at anything so like a Person one Loves.’
Collins left Bath in 1762, his notorious ‘gay and expensive habits’ finally catching up with him. A payment to Collins of £100 in 1763 from Gainsborough was possibly a loan to help his friend. From Bath he moved to Dublin, where again he established a successful studio, painting miniatures of society figures. His death in 1768 from a fever was ‘not only regretted by every artist and admirer of the arts, but by a numerous acquaintance’.
 This landscape is inscribed verso in brown ink: "Bath-Mr Gainsborough Given me by Mr Saml. Collins, miniature Painter, who had it of Mr Gainsborough".
 S. Sloman, Gainsborough in Bath, New Haven and London, 2002, p. 98
 Dublin Mercury, 27-9 October 1786