Horace Hone (1754-1825)
This portrait, painted in Ireland, shows Hone’s subtle colouring and sensitive observation of features which made him so sought-after for his skill in miniature painting.
Horace (1754–1825) was the son of the more famous Nathaniel Hone the Elder, and, like his father, painted miniatures, mostly on vellum or ivory, but also produced enamels. The Hones were an Irish family (though Horace was born in Frith Street, Soho), and their patrons included many of the Irish aristocracy. This portrait, painted in Ireland, shows Hone’s subtle colouring and sensitive observation of features which made him so sought-after for his skill in miniature painting...
Hone moved to Dublin in 1782, painting the infamous actress Sarah Siddons [National Gallery of Ireland] in the same year as this portrait of a Gentleman. In Ireland, he continued the early success of his earlier London career, arriving connected to the retinue of Lady Temple, Baroness Nugent of Carlanstown. It was through this formidable peeress that Hone enjoyed abundant patronage and it is likely that the sitter portrayed in this portrait was of Nugent’s circle. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge holds a striking portrait of the architect James Gandon, a pupil of William Kent, who designed the Four Courts and many other public and private buildings in Dublin, and indeed a miniature of Viscount Fitzwilliam himself. Such was Hone’s success that in 1795 he was appointed miniature painter to the Prince of Wales.
Hone was forced to follow his patrons back to England after his successful Irish practice was badly affected by the Act of Union in 1800. He became mentally ill in 1807, and his last years seem to have been a slow decline with increasing bouts of mental instability. He died in 1825 in Dover Street, Mayfair.