Born in Devon, Ozias Humphry travelled to London at the age of fifteen and enrolled at St. Martin’s Lane School on the advice of Sir Joshua Reynolds. In 1760 Humphry was apprenticed to the miniature painter Samuel Collins, although Collin’s expensive lifestyle soon saw him flee to Dublin to avoid creditors which is why, presumably, Humphry then relocated to Bath. It was once again on the advice of Reynolds that Humphry returned to London where he began exhibiting at the Society of Artists and became acquainted with the other leading lights of the era. In 1772 a fall from a horse left Humphry’s career in the balance and he decided to take sojourn to Italy with painter George Romney, exhibiting at the Royal Academy a few years after his return.

This portrait of a girl in a white dress was painted in the searing heat of Calcutta in 1785, when Humphry attempted to gain commissions in India (the year...

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Born in Devon, Ozias Humphry travelled to London at the age of fifteen and enrolled at St. Martin’s Lane School on the advice of Sir Joshua Reynolds. In 1760 Humphry was apprenticed to the miniature painter Samuel Collins, although Collin’s expensive lifestyle soon saw him flee to Dublin to avoid creditors which is why, presumably, Humphry then relocated to Bath. It was once again on the advice of Reynolds that Humphry returned to London where he began exhibiting at the Society of Artists and became acquainted with the other leading lights of the era. In 1772 a fall from a horse left Humphry’s career in the balance and he decided to take sojourn to Italy with painter George Romney, exhibiting at the Royal Academy a few years after his return.

This portrait of a girl in a white dress was painted in the searing heat of Calcutta in 1785, when Humphry attempted to gain commissions in India (the year that his rival, the miniaturist John Smart, arrived in the country). The delicate execution indicates the influence of the French Rococo style which, by the mid-to-late 18th century was sweeping through the minds of many of England’s greatest artists, whilst the sitter’s dress displays contemporary fashion. This nod to fashion back at home would have been much appreciated by Humphry's ex-patriot sitters.

After a brief period spent in India in the mid-1780’s, Humphry returned to London, where, faced with increasingly failing eyesight, he gave up portrait miniature painting and instead focused on working in other mediums, and was appointed portrait painter in crayons to the king. Sadly, following the 1797 Royal Academy show, Humphry’s eyesight failed completely, and in 1810 he died in lodgings set up by the widow of his former pupil Henry Spicer.

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500 Years of British Art