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Portrait miniature - Portrait of Mrs Siddons, born Sarah Kemble
  • Portrait of Mrs Siddons, born Sarah Kemble
    Crosse, Richard, born 1742 - died 1810
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Portrait of Mrs Siddons, born Sarah Kemble

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1783 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Crosse, Richard, born 1742 - died 1810 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased, 1929

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery, case 11

By 1783 Mrs Siddons was the leading tragic actress in the country, and any portrait of her was guaranteed to be an eye-catcher in a crowded exhibition room. Richard Crosse astutely recognised the appeal of the star, and painted a miniature of five inches which he clearly intended to act as an advertisement for him as well as for the actress. Painting on such a large scale on ivory in watercolours was an undoubted test of skill. He has ingeniously exploited the light-reflecting ivory support by increasing the transparency of the watercolours by adding more gum arabic. He has also avoided depicting Mrs Siddons in a theatrical role. By presenting her in fashionable dress and standing among picturesquely evocative ruins, he alludes to her classical tragic roles, but does so with a gentle lyricism altogether appropriate to the scale of the art of painting in miniature.

Physical description

Portrait of Mrs Siddons, the famous actress, leaning on a pillar with an urn in the background. Wearing a white dress trimmed with blue ribbon. Hair worn high and powdered with pearls laced through it.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (probably, painted)


1783 (painted)


Crosse, Richard, born 1742 - died 1810 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on ivory


Height: 174 mm, Width: 133 mm

Object history note

Purchased, 1929 with P.147-1929 and P.148-1929

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of the actress Sarah Siddons (1755-1831) née Kemble, by Richard Crosse. Great Britain, 1783.


Watercolour; Ivory



Subjects depicted

Portrait; Actress


Portraits; Paintings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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