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When the writer of an article in Country Life visited Ombersley Court in 1953 he paid particular attention to this drawing, calling it ‘a charming 17th century drawing, anonymous as to sitter and artist, but not unworthy of Lely’. [1]

Although this drawing lacks the confident draughtsmanship of Lely it was almost certainly conceived as a finished work of art, much like the family group of finished portrait drawings that Roger North, Lely’s friend and executor, described as ‘craions’ housed ‘in ebony frames’. This reflects the status of drawings by renowned artists of the 17th century, including the miniaturist Samuel Cooper, who was able to command high prices for sketches and unfinished portraits from those who admired the direct, graphic quality of such works.

The attribution here to the hand of the artist Richard Gibson, better known as a portrait miniaturist, is based on stylistic comparison with a remarkable set of portraits on loan to an exhibition at...

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When the writer of an article in Country Life visited Ombersley Court in 1953 he paid particular attention to this drawing, calling it ‘a charming 17th century drawing, anonymous as to sitter and artist, but not unworthy of Lely’. [1]

Although this drawing lacks the confident draughtsmanship of Lely it was almost certainly conceived as a finished work of art, much like the family group of finished portrait drawings that Roger North, Lely’s friend and executor, described as ‘craions’ housed ‘in ebony frames’. This reflects the status of drawings by renowned artists of the 17th century, including the miniaturist Samuel Cooper, who was able to command high prices for sketches and unfinished portraits from those who admired the direct, graphic quality of such works.

The attribution here to the hand of the artist Richard Gibson, better known as a portrait miniaturist, is based on stylistic comparison with a remarkable set of portraits on loan to an exhibition at the British Museum in 1987. The exhibition, Drawing in England from Hilliard to Hogarth, included a group of drawings which had been passed down through the Tower family (William Towers, d. 1693, was a friend of Richard Gibson). Still family owned, this group included several drawings, including a self-portrait by Gibson, which showed a strong link with the technique of Sir Peter Lely. As noted by A. Oswald in Country Life, there is a striking similarity between Gibson’s drawings and those by Lely, including the materials used.

Most artists of this period also drew for pleasure and therefore their subject matter was often their close circle of family and friends. Samuel Cooper, for example, recorded his family and friends in this way, even recording, most poignantly, a dead baby who may have been the first-born child of John Hoskins the younger and his wife, Grace Beaumont.[2] It has not been possible to confirm the identity of this sitter but the intimate and informal nature of the pose, with the sitter’s hand modestly adjusting her clothing, suggests that it was drawn by someone who knew her well.

[1] A. Oswald, 'Ombersley Court, Worcestershire', Country Life, 2 January 1953, p. 37

[2] Illustrated L. Stainton, C. White, ‘Drawing in England from Hilliard to Hogarth, British Museum, London, 1987, cat. 80, p. 115

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500 Years of British Art