Daughter of celebrated miniature painter Richard Gibson, Susannah-Penelope Rosse’s miniatures are delicately handled with exceptional finesse. A talented artist, Rosse did not need to work for a living, but produced portraits of family and friends that serve as an intimate record of her life. Many of her connections to artists and sitters came through her parents, who were famous at court for their artistic talents, permitting her social and artistic access to a variety of court figures.

Born in 1652, Rosse grew up in London and became close friends with her neighbour, the acclaimed miniaturise Samuel Cooper. Throughout her career Rosse copied many of Cooper’s works, studying his technique to improve her painterly skill. She became well known for her copies of Cooper’s work and was praised by George Vertue; ‘as by these may bee seen; nobody ever copy’d him better’.[1] So successful were these copies, that mis-attributions of Rosse’s work have often been credited to the...

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Daughter of celebrated miniature painter Richard Gibson, Susannah-Penelope Rosse’s miniatures are delicately handled with exceptional finesse. A talented artist, Rosse did not need to work for a living, but produced portraits of family and friends that serve as an intimate record of her life. Many of her connections to artists and sitters came through her parents, who were famous at court for their artistic talents, permitting her social and artistic access to a variety of court figures.

Born in 1652, Rosse grew up in London and became close friends with her neighbour, the acclaimed miniaturise Samuel Cooper. Throughout her career Rosse copied many of Cooper’s works, studying his technique to improve her painterly skill. She became well known for her copies of Cooper’s work and was praised by George Vertue; ‘as by these may bee seen; nobody ever copy’d him better’.[1] So successful were these copies, that mis-attributions of Rosse’s work have often been credited to the hand of Cooper. Mis-attributions of this kind have occurred in numerous works by Rosse, including several now within the Victoria & Albert Museum collection, a testament to her accomplished technique.

Previously believed to depict Mary of Modena, Beatrice d'Este, Duchess of York and Queen of England, a more likely sitter for this work is Anne (née Palmer) Lennard, Countess of Sussex (1661-1721/1722). Anne Lennard was the eldest daughter of Barbara Villiers, 1st Duchess of Cleveland (1640-1709), mistress to King Charles II. In 1674, at the age of 13, Anne married Thomas Lennard, 15th Baron Dacre, who was subsequently created Earl of Sussex. Charles II paid for both the couple’s wedding and their dowry. It is known that Rosse painted her twice, one version is in the Victoria and Albert Museum [450-1892].

Examples of Rosse’s work are currently held in important collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and within the Royal Collection.

[1] Vertue I, p.116

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500 Years of British Art