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Portrait miniature - Portrait of a young girl
  • Portrait of a young girl
    Smart, John, born 1742 - died 1811
  • Enlarge image

Portrait of a young girl

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    England (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    late 1790s (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Smart, John, born 1742 - died 1811 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour and graphite on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mrs K. Gifford Scott, from the Hugh John Burton Collection

  • Museum number:

    P.31-1984

  • Gallery location:

    Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery, case 15

In the late 18th century a new sister art and rival to miniature portraits appeared. Since about 1700 miniaturists had worked on ivory, and before that on vellum (animal skin). Up to the late 18th century, watercolour was used mainly by topographic artists, who applied it on paper to tint their drawings. But as watercolour painting developed as an art in its own right, miniaturists saw that working on paper was easier, and so quicker and cheaper. They could thus attract new patrons. Many now widened their repertoire and developed types of watercolour portraits on paper or card. They produced elegant graphite drawings, either tinted lightly with a watercolour wash or with the sitter's head painted minutely in watercolour.

This is a typical example by John Smart, who produced many such small oval portraits, with the face finished and body sketched quickly. One problem with paper is that it can quickly discolour and degrade, unlike the more expensive vellum or ivory. Smart's small graphite and watercolour portraits on paper often have the slightly brown tint seen in this miniature. Originally, the paper would have been a crisp white.

Physical description

Portrait in graphite and watercolour on paper of a young girl

Place of Origin

England (probably, painted)

Date

late 1790s (painted)

Artist/maker

Smart, John, born 1742 - died 1811 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour and graphite on paper

Dimensions

Height: 60 mm, Width: 51 mm

Object history note

Bequeathed by Mrs K. Gifford Scott, from the Hugh John Burton Collection

Descriptive line

Portrait in graphite and watercolour on paper of a young girl, by John Smart. British School, ca. late 1790s.

Materials

Graphite; Watercolour

Techniques

Drawing; Painting

Subjects depicted

Portrait

Categories

Portraits; Children & Childhood; Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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