Menu
Menu
Zoomable Image of A Lady, wearing a black shawl layered over a blue dress, with strings of pearls at her neck and in her powdered hair, c.1789

A Lady, wearing a black shawl layered over a blue dress, with strings of pearls at her neck and in her powdered hair, c.1789

Samuel Shelley (1750-1808)

A Lady, wearing a black shawl layered over a blue dress, with strings of pearls at her neck and in her powdered hair, c.1789

Samuel Shelley (1750-1808)

Purchase Enquiries

Phone +44(0)20 7499 6818

Email art@philipmould.com

Price:

£2,200

Materials:

Watercolour on ivory

Dimensions:

Oval, 2 ½ ins (64mm) high

Provenance:

Private Collection UK

Frame:

Gold frame, the reverse with blue glass over an impress-foil ground

The thick locks of curled hair are a key characteristic of Shelley’s work and the variations in shadow tones, allowing for recession of depth, create a feeling of weight and volume otherwise absent in many of the artist’s contemporaries.

Samuel Shelley was a highly successful artist who worked in a number of mediums, although is perhaps best known for his instantly recognisable portrait miniatures of society’s leading lights. The present work, painted during the last years of the 1780s, shows the sitter in a typically wistful pose, with her head directed away from the viewer in a manner which clearly shows the influence of the leading society painters of the period (in particular, Sir Joshua Reynolds). The thick locks of curled hair are a key characteristic of Shelley’s work and the variations in shadow tones, allowing for recession of depth, create a feeling of weight and volume otherwise absent in many of the artist’s contemporaries. Although the sitter wears a black shawl over her shoulders, this has slipped to reveal her décolletage. Such an image would have been reserved for only the most intimate acquaintance.

Shelley was a native of London and followed a relatively conventional route into his chosen career, and, after winning the much-coveted premium prize awarded annually by the Society of Arts at the age of fourteen, entered the Royal Academy Schools on 21st March 1774. After studying at the R.A. schools (and exhibiting 1774-1804), he became an important voice in the history of watercolour painting in the eighteenth century. A founder member of the first watercolour society in 1805, he believed that watercolours should be given their own forum and exhibition space in order to be properly appreciated. Before the formation of such a society, watercolours could only be shown next to oils at the conventional exhibition spaces of the Society of Artists or Royal Academy. This new separation from brightly coloured, large oil paintings allowed watercolours to be viewed among paintings in the same media and heralded a new admiration of such work. Shelley’s desire to compete with oil paintings also led him to produce small watercolour subject pictures to exhibit alongside the portrait miniatures he painted all his life.


Similar works