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Portrait miniature of Richard Whitmore aged 3

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (painted)

  • Date:

    1718 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lens, Bernard III, born 1681 - died 1740 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on ivory

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery, case 9

Bernard Lens was the first artist in England to work in watercolour on ivory, the invention of the Venetian artist Rosalba Carriera (1675-1757). This portrait is on the modern support of ivory, but Lens has painted it with strong echoes of Tudor miniatures: the boy is turned nearly full to the front, painted in the clear light of day and in bright colours, and set off in sharp outline against a solid blue background. It is reminiscent of two portraits of two little girls by Isaac Oliver that are also in the V&A. Lens often painted copies on vellum (animal skin) of old miniatures for collectors who were interested in historical sitters. But this consciously old-fashioned style for a modern portrait on ivory of a child is rather unusual. Interestingly, it is one of 15 with similar blue backgrounds, which record the family of the politician Richard Whitmore, and it is possible that it was the conceit of the patron. The other miniatures show Whitmore’s wife holding a baby, the other children, including one holding a doll, another a bow and arrow, and even a portrait of a baby wrapped in swaddling, painted lengthways on an ivory oval. The V&A holds a second, of Katherine Whitmore (inv.no. P.14-1971).

Physical description

Miniature portrait of Richard Whitmore aged 3, with a toy horse on wheels.
Inscribed on the back "Richard / the 3rd son of Wilm / & Eliz : Whitmore / aetatis 3 / An. 1718 / by B Lens."

Sold as part of a group of 15 miniatures of members of the family of Richard Whitmore MP, Christie's, 2nd November 1971, Lots 115 - 129. Richard Whitmore MP owned an estate, "Apley" in Shropshire and another at Lower Slaughter in Gloucestershire. He was MP for Bridgnorth 1705-10 and again 1713-25.

Place of Origin

England (painted)


1718 (painted)


Lens, Bernard III, born 1681 - died 1740 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on ivory


Height: 76 mm, Width: 63 mm

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of Richard Whitmore, dated 1718, watercolour on ivory, painted by Bernard Lens (1682-1740).

Subjects depicted

Toys, Toy horses; Children


Paintings; Children's clothes; Children & Childhood; Dolls & Toys


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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