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Portrait miniature - The Hon. Catherine North

The Hon. Catherine North

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    England (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1690 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ashfield, Edmund (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on vellum lput down on a leaf from a table-book.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case RMC, shelf 1, box H

This miniature is one of a group of five portraits of members of the North family. In his Seventeenth-century English Miniatures in the Collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum (1997), John Murdoch notes that the miniatures were probably painted by Edmund Ashfield (worked 1669-90). He thought this because of the signature ‘E.A’ that is found at the lower centre right on another miniature from this group. This is of Charles North, 5th Baron North de Kirtling (catalogue number 131 in Murdoch’s book; Museum number P.42-1987).

Edmund Ashfield was a painter in oil and ‘crayon’ (what is called today ‘pastel’), but it was long thought that he had also painted miniatures. This group apparently supports this belief.

Physical description

Portrait of a girl, half-length, facing to front. Features softly hatched and stippled in brown and sanguine, modelled with blue and grey, with red for the lips and black in the eyes with highlights of white, on a warm creamy carnation; hair in pale brown wash, worked over in darker colour, some lights in pale grey and touches of pink at the hair-line; dress in ochre wash, modelled in two shades of brown with white and grey heightening; chemise in white shaded with grey, brown and blue; background in pale grey, washed and hatched over in darker colour, and lightened behind and around the head; on vellum put down on a leaffrom a table-book.

Frame: An oval frame, turned ebony of bolection moulding with additional grooves at the outer and inner edges; the inner ring possibly made separately; the convex glass set in a rebate; a plain brass ring for the hanger, with traces of original gilding, held by a pin driven through the wood at the top; inscribed in ink on an old label attached to the paper cover of the backing: Miss Catherine/North, in the same hand as on P.42-1987.

Place of Origin

England (painted)


ca. 1690 (painted)


Ashfield, Edmund (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on vellum lput down on a leaf from a table-book.

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed in silver-point on the back


Height: 76 mm, Width: 62 mm

Object history note

Provenance:Until 1690, Charles, 5th Baron North de Kirtling; until 1734, William, 6th Baron; his wife, Maria Margareta (born ‘de jonge van Ellemete’). who married secondly in 1735 Patrick Murray, 5th Lord Elibank; his illegitimate son Patrick Murray of Simprim, Forfarshire (d.c.1854); his daughter Maria Margaretta (d.1873) who married in 1842 James, Baron Talbot de Malahide; her eldest daughter Susan-Ann, who married in 1864 Cecil St John Ives, subsequently Major-General; their second daughter Marion who married her third husband in 1923, Godfrey Waiter, 2nd Baron Phillimore; she died in 1950; the miniatures sold to the Museum by private treaty with two of her heirs, 1987.

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of the Hon. Catherine North when a child, watercolour on vellum by Edmund Ashfield, ca.1690.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

John Murdoch, Seventeenth-century English Miniatures in the Collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London: The Stationery Office in association with the Victoria & Albert Museum, 1997.


Vellum; Watercolour



Subjects depicted

Girl; Child


Portraits; Paintings; Children & Childhood


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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