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Lady Anne Churchill

  • Object:

    Portrait miniature

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (probably, drawn)

  • Date:

    1700 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Forster, Thomas (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Graphite on vellum

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with funds from the Murray Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery, case 8

In the second half of the 17th century in England there was a fashion for small black and white portraits drawn on vellum (fine animal skin). This medium is more durable than paper. Although these portraits were called 'plumbagos', meaning black lead, they were usually drawn in graphite and sometimes in ink. This portrait is done in graphite. ‘Plumbagos' developed in the Netherlands in the late 16th century within the print trade. They developed from the printmakers’ original drawings on paper, from which a print would have been engraved. 'Plumbagos' were introduced into England when the monarchy was restored in 1660, by printmakers who returned home from exile abroad. As the taste for 'plumbagos' became established, artists who were not printmakers also began to produce them.

A few artists continued the art of the 'plumbago' into the early 18th century. We know very little about Thomas Forster, but he was clearly a talented 'plumbago' artist. His portraits date from between 1690 and 1713.

Physical description

Plumbago portrait miniature of Lady Anne Churchill

Place of Origin

Great Britain (probably, drawn)


1700 (drawn)


Forster, Thomas (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Graphite on vellum


Height: 111 mm, Width: 86 mm

Descriptive line

Portrait miniature of Lady Anne Churchill, dated 1700, graphite on vellum, drawn by Thomas Forster (fl. 1690-1717).

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

Summary Catalogue of Miniatures in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Emmett Microform, 1981






Portraits; Drawings


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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