This elegant portrait of a gentleman in a magenta velvet jacket is typical of the high quality of Zincke’s enamels painted towards the end of his career. Born to a family of Goldsmiths in Dresden, he went on to train in enamelling and was invited to England by Charles Boit (1662-1727), enamellist to William III. Boit needed assistance completing a large scale enamel commemorating the victory of the Battle of Blenheim, a commission which was never completed.[1] Whilst working on this complicated work, Zincke became proficient enough to establish his own studio in London; his earliest known signed enamel is a portrait of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough [Royal Collection], dating to 1711, which derives from a head and shoulders portrait by Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723).

After Boit fled to France to escape his creditors in 1714 and George II ascended to the throne in 1727, Zincke became the most successful enamellist in Britain. By the late 1720s he was extensively...

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This elegant portrait of a gentleman in a magenta velvet jacket is typical of the high quality of Zincke’s enamels painted towards the end of his career. Born to a family of Goldsmiths in Dresden, he went on to train in enamelling and was invited to England by Charles Boit (1662-1727), enamellist to William III. Boit needed assistance completing a large scale enamel commemorating the victory of the Battle of Blenheim, a commission which was never completed.[1] Whilst working on this complicated work, Zincke became proficient enough to establish his own studio in London; his earliest known signed enamel is a portrait of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough [Royal Collection], dating to 1711, which derives from a head and shoulders portrait by Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723).

After Boit fled to France to escape his creditors in 1714 and George II ascended to the throne in 1727, Zincke became the most successful enamellist in Britain. By the late 1720s he was extensively patronised by the royal family, and in 1732 he was made Cabinet Painter to Frederick Prince of Wales. He was well-liked by his royal patrons, particularly by George II, who, despite being famously off-hand with portrait painters, clearly admired Zincke’s craftsmanship, once commenting that his portraits were both ‘beautiful and like’. Zincke painted many members of the royal family – portraits which remain part of the Royal Collection - include likenesses of the King and Queen, Princesses Mary, Amelia, Anne and Caroline and even William IV, Prince of Orange who married Princess Anne in 1734. These commissions established his reputation and many of his sitters, most likely including the present work, were of noble sitters.

At the time this portrait enamel was painted, Zincke’s eyesight was quickly deteriorating and in 1742 he increased his price for an enamel by 10 guineas to decrease his workload. Four years later in 1746 he had retired from enamelling and moved from Covent Garden to South Lambeth. Although, tragically, his career ended prematurely, Zincke had established himself as one of the most prolific and successful portrait enamellists of the eighteenth century by the 1740s. His work is held in a number of major national collections, including the Ashmolean Museum, the Royal Collection and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

[1] D. Foskett, Miniatures: Dictionary and Guide (Woodbridge, 1987), p.682

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500 Years of British Art