Enamelling was perhaps in Hone’s blood, and he became the pre-eminent artist in this medium after the decline in Christian Friedrich Zincke’s practice from 1746.

The sitter in this intricately painted enamel by Nathaniel Hone was traditionally thought to be Mary Boyle, Countess of Cork and Orrery. Comparison with other verified portraits of the Countess shows a discrepancy in features and contemporary descriptions of her as ‘…very short, very fat, but handsome, splendidly and fantastically dressed, rouged not unbecomingly, yet evidently and palpably desirous of gaining notice and admiration.', do not perhaps accord with this portrait of this young woman, with her distinctive strawberry-blonde hair and elegant, long neck.[1]

Nathaniel Hone was born in Dublin, the son of a merchant who descended from a line of Dutch goldsmiths. Enamelling was perhaps in Hone’s blood, and he became the pre-eminent artist in this medium after the decline in Christian Friedrich Zincke’s practice from 1746. The present portrait dates from Hone’s time in London, where he had moved in 1748. He was an important member of the artistic community, particularly as a founder member of...

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The sitter in this intricately painted enamel by Nathaniel Hone was traditionally thought to be Mary Boyle, Countess of Cork and Orrery. Comparison with other verified portraits of the Countess shows a discrepancy in features and contemporary descriptions of her as ‘…very short, very fat, but handsome, splendidly and fantastically dressed, rouged not unbecomingly, yet evidently and palpably desirous of gaining notice and admiration.', do not perhaps accord with this portrait of this young woman, with her distinctive strawberry-blonde hair and elegant, long neck.[1]

Nathaniel Hone was born in Dublin, the son of a merchant who descended from a line of Dutch goldsmiths. Enamelling was perhaps in Hone’s blood, and he became the pre-eminent artist in this medium after the decline in Christian Friedrich Zincke’s practice from 1746. The present portrait dates from Hone’s time in London, where he had moved in 1748. He was an important member of the artistic community, particularly as a founder member of the Royal Academy.

Hone was not only an enameller and miniaturist but is perhaps better remembered as a successful oil painter. In 1775, his profile as an artist was raised by the scandalous, satirical portrait he attempted to exhibit, that clearly portrayed Sir Joshua Reynolds and his former lover Angelica Kauffmann (‘The Conjuror’). His sitters included aristocracy and royalty, but he remained a controversial figure in the art world until his death in 1784.

[1] C.R. Leslie and Tom Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 2 vols., London, 1865, vol.2, pp.278-9

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500 Years of British Art