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There were a number of captains with the last name Hamilton in the royal navy during this period, making it very difficult to prove with certainty the identity of this sitter.

One possibility is Charles Powell Hamilton (1747-1825) who was made captain in 1779, although a finished portrait of this sitter by Smart [private collection] bears little resemblance, ruling out the possibility that this was a preliminary study. Another celebrated Hamilton is Sir John Hamilton, who was made captain in 1771, although the absence of any confirmed iconography makes this again difficult to prove.

Although the faces of Smart’s sitters were highly individualized, their attire, especially with regards to military and naval personal, were slightly vaguer in these preliminary works given the absence of colour. It is perhaps for this reason that Smart made a note on the reverse of this work stating ‘dark blue coat […]’, which maybe helped him at a later point to...

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There were a number of captains with the last name Hamilton in the royal navy during this period, making it very difficult to prove with certainty the identity of this sitter.

One possibility is Charles Powell Hamilton (1747-1825) who was made captain in 1779, although a finished portrait of this sitter by Smart [private collection] bears little resemblance, ruling out the possibility that this was a preliminary study. Another celebrated Hamilton is Sir John Hamilton, who was made captain in 1771, although the absence of any confirmed iconography makes this again difficult to prove.

Although the faces of Smart’s sitters were highly individualized, their attire, especially with regards to military and naval personal, were slightly vaguer in these preliminary works given the absence of colour. It is perhaps for this reason that Smart made a note on the reverse of this work stating ‘dark blue coat […]’, which maybe helped him at a later point to distinguish between naval and infantry uniform.

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500 Years of British Art