The distinctive auburn hair of these siblings is sadly not enough to identify the children, who were probably brothers. It is possible that this locket was worn by the sitter’s father, as it has been disguised as a watch case. The London-born artist Horace Hone was taught by his father, Nathaniel, before entering the Academy schools. Two years later he began exhibiting at the Royal Academy, moving to his father’s home city of Dublin ten years later in 1782.

This double commission was probably painted around the time of Hone’s appointment as miniature painter to the Prince of Wales. Few portraits by him of children exist, although the portrait of his daughter Mary Matilda, as ‘Innocent Thought’ was engraved and published by W. Allen of Dublin around this time.[1]

Hone’s successful Irish practice was badly affected by the 1800 Act of Union as many of his fashionable patrons moved to London after this date. In 1804...

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The distinctive auburn hair of these siblings is sadly not enough to identify the children, who were probably brothers. It is possible that this locket was worn by the sitter’s father, as it has been disguised as a watch case. The London-born artist Horace Hone was taught by his father, Nathaniel, before entering the Academy schools. Two years later he began exhibiting at the Royal Academy, moving to his father’s home city of Dublin ten years later in 1782.

This double commission was probably painted around the time of Hone’s appointment as miniature painter to the Prince of Wales. Few portraits by him of children exist, although the portrait of his daughter Mary Matilda, as ‘Innocent Thought’ was engraved and published by W. Allen of Dublin around this time.[1]

Hone’s successful Irish practice was badly affected by the 1800 Act of Union as many of his fashionable patrons moved to London after this date. In 1804 he returned to London but suffered increasing bouts of mental instability. A letter from Hone, now in the archives of the Royal Academy and dated 1820 shows him pleading for a pension in the face of financial ruin. This was duly awarded, together with a donation of £50. Hone died in 1825 in Dover Street, Mayfair.

[1] An example is in the British Museum, Reg. no. 1852,0214.286

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500 Years of British Art