Henry Spicer, miniaturist, enamel painter and engraver, was born in Reepham, Norfolk in 1742 and was the pupil of Gervase Spencer and the teacher of William Birch (1755-1834), the artist who may have introduced the art of enamel portraits to America. He was a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists of Great Britain and was appointed secretary in 1773. In 1770 he was elected a member of the Society of Antiquaries and exhibited for the first time in the Royal Academy in 1774. He later relocated to Dublin where he lived for several years, returning to London in 1782.

The present work is relatively late for Spicer and its large size is an indication of how he had mastered the art of enamelling (a notoriously challenging technique, particularly on a larger scale). Elizabeth is painted in a grand setting, on a gilt-edged red upholstered chair with a red velvet curtain behind her, in the distance the landscape...

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Henry Spicer, miniaturist, enamel painter and engraver, was born in Reepham, Norfolk in 1742 and was the pupil of Gervase Spencer and the teacher of William Birch (1755-1834), the artist who may have introduced the art of enamel portraits to America. He was a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists of Great Britain and was appointed secretary in 1773. In 1770 he was elected a member of the Society of Antiquaries and exhibited for the first time in the Royal Academy in 1774. He later relocated to Dublin where he lived for several years, returning to London in 1782.

The present work is relatively late for Spicer and its large size is an indication of how he had mastered the art of enamelling (a notoriously challenging technique, particularly on a larger scale). Elizabeth is painted in a grand setting, on a gilt-edged red upholstered chair with a red velvet curtain behind her, in the distance the landscape suggests an estate park. The composition is close to that used by oil portraitists of the period.

Spicer painted the Duke of Northumberland, the Earl of Moira, Sir Joshua Reynolds, the actress Sarah Siddons and Lord Nelson and amongst his friends were George Stubbs, William Hamilton and Ozias Humphry, a fellow miniaturist who lodged with the Spicers until his own death in 1810. He was appointed painter on enamel to the Prince of Wales in 1790 and had two daughters who both followed his profession, Miss M.A. Spicer and Miss J. Spicer.[1]

[1] L.R. Schidlof, The Miniature in Europe, (Graz, 1964), p.777; D. Foskett, Miniatures: Dictionary and Guide, (Woodbridge, 1990), p.654.

Note: Elizabeth may have been related to Frederick Atherton Hindley (d. 1781), steward to the 4th Earl of Radnor; deputy teller of the Exchequer 1756-66; deputy patentee for making out commissions of bankruptcy 1753-79; died at Brussels 'a few days ago' (London Chronicle 18-20 Sept. 1781, 1. 278). Lord Radnor left his house and furniture at Twickenham to Hindley, who was forced to sell them 1779-80.

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500 Years of British Art