Unknown young woman thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 52, The George Levy Gallery

Unknown young woman

Pastel
mid 18th century (drawn)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This portrait by Francis Cotes is a good example of a pastel from the 18th century, when pastel painting was at its most fashionable. 'Pastel' is a coloured crayon made out of pigment mixed with a water-soluble binder such as gum.

Pastels can be blended on paper to achieve a soft, dusty finish. Because this tonal technique is more like painting than drawing it is known as 'pastel painting'.

Time
This portrait dates from around 1755-1764. These dates are based partly on the fact that Cotes did not begin to produce works of this quality until 1755, and partly on costume style and hair style.

Materials and Making
Pastel offered a number of advantages over oil. It was a quick medium to work in since no drying time was necessary, so the sitter spent less time at the artist's studio. Pastels were also cheaper than oils because they tended to be smaller in size, required fewer pigments and less time on the artist's part. Unlike oils, pastels also had to be protected with glass, an expensive commodity at this date, which gave them added lustre and glamour.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Pastel on paper
Brief Description
Portrait of an unknown woman. Pastel drawing by Francis Cotes, mid-18th century.
Physical Description
Half-length portrait of a young woman, turned to and looking to front. The sitter is wearing a lace cap, tied with a pale blue ribbon, and a dress trimmed with lace and pale blue decoration.
Dimensions
  • Sight height: 59.7cm
  • Width: 44.1cm
Dimensions checked: Measured; 01/12/1999 by KD
Styles
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Before 1700, pastels were mostly used for preparatory sketches. During the 18th century, half-length pastel portraits became popular as works of art in their own right. They were particularly popular for portraits of women. Francis Cotes' work became well-known when his portraits of the famously beautiful Gunning sisters, known as the 'gorgeous Gunnings', were circulated as engravings.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Claude D. Rotch
Object history
This pastel, which was exhibited at Colnaghi's 'Old Master Drawings', 1952 (No.70), is in a contemporary carved frame.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
This portrait by Francis Cotes is a good example of a pastel from the 18th century, when pastel painting was at its most fashionable. 'Pastel' is a coloured crayon made out of pigment mixed with a water-soluble binder such as gum.

Pastels can be blended on paper to achieve a soft, dusty finish. Because this tonal technique is more like painting than drawing it is known as 'pastel painting'.

Time
This portrait dates from around 1755-1764. These dates are based partly on the fact that Cotes did not begin to produce works of this quality until 1755, and partly on costume style and hair style.

Materials and Making
Pastel offered a number of advantages over oil. It was a quick medium to work in since no drying time was necessary, so the sitter spent less time at the artist's studio. Pastels were also cheaper than oils because they tended to be smaller in size, required fewer pigments and less time on the artist's part. Unlike oils, pastels also had to be protected with glass, an expensive commodity at this date, which gave them added lustre and glamour.
Bibliographic Reference
Victoria & Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1962. London: HMSO, 1964.
Collection
Accession Number
P.59-1962

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 27, 2003
Record URL