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Miniature - Unknown Man
  • Unknown Man
    Robertson, Andrew, born 1777 - died 1845
  • Enlarge image

Unknown Man

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, painted)

  • Date:

    1812 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Robertson, Andrew, born 1777 - died 1845 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Watercolour on ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Given by William Castell in memory of Peggy and Ted Castell

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery, case 13

Andrew Robertson (1777-1845) was born in Aberdeen. In 1792, due to his father’s illness, he had to abandon training for the medical profession, and moved to Edinburgh to earn his living. He worked as a theatrical scene-painter and a portrait miniaturist, but being ambitious he left for London in 1801 and joined the Royal Academy Schools. Here the focus of his studies was anatomy and the life drawing classes. His letters home record the struggles which led him to develop a new style of miniature painting, which eventually set the standard for the next generation of miniaturists.

Robertson believed that the small oval miniatures of the previous generation of painters were “but toys”. He resolved to develop a “great style” of miniature painting which emulated oil painting in its strength of colour and which did not just focus on the head of a sitter, but used his skills as a draughtsman of the human figure. Unfortunately this "great style" was a labour intensive and so expensive method and, as can be seen from this miniature, Robertson had to continue to paint "ovals" to survive.

The dating of this miniature has presented problems, as it is inscribed on the front "1830", but on the back is an inscription, almost certainly by Robertson, which gives his address, and in another hand, the date "1812". The address, 33 Gerrard Street, is correct for 1812, but from 1817 he lived at number 34. Additionally, the costume and hair-style of the sitter are more appropriate for 1812 than for 1830. As the date of "1812" is by a different hand to that giving the address, it has been decided to date the miniature to the dates Robertson lived at 33 Gerrard Street; 1806-1817.

Physical description

Oval miniature of a gentleman with short black hair swept forward over his temples, wearing a black jacket with a dark coloured cravat.

Place of Origin

London (probably, painted)


1812 (painted)


Robertson, Andrew, born 1777 - died 1845 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Watercolour on ivory

Marks and inscriptions

This date can be found lower left on the front, and has been created by lifting off the watercolour, thereby leaving the ivory bare to form the numbers "1830".

"Painted by / A Robertson / 33 Gerrard St / Soho" [and, by another hand] "1812".
The first part of the inscription on the backing paper would seem to be by the artist. The date, "1812" appears to be by another hand.


Height: 78 mm sight size only, Width: 60 mm sight size only

Descriptive line

Oval miniature of a gentleman with black hair, jacket and dark cravat, watercolour on ivory, by Andrew Robertson, 1812, probably London.






Paintings; Portraits; Scotland


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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