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Miniature

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1756 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Spencer, Gervase (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamel on copper, gilt-brass and copper, gold and silver alloy tortoiseshell frames

  • Credit Line:

    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.277-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 71, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 7, shelf DU1

George Spencer (1739-1817) succeeded his father to become 4th Duke of Marlborough in 1758. In 1762 he was made Lord Chamberlain, and a year later Lord Privy Seal. He lived at Blenheim Palace. Before he become a miniaturist, Gervase Spencer was employed as a gentleman's servant. He became a successful miniature painter on the newly fashionable base of ivory and later also produced work in enamel.

Continental artists first introduced enamel painting to England in the 17th century. But it was in the early 18th century that it became fashionable. The young German Christian Friedrich Zincke dominated the market in London. It was Zincke who trained a number of English artists, including William Prewett. Most artists working in enamel were taught by an experienced enameller. It is not known who trained Gervase Spencer this difficult art, but he later taught Henry Spicer, who in turn taught William Birch. In 1794 Birch successfully established himself in America as an enamel painter.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.

Physical description

Oval miniature bust length portrait of George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough shown with powdered hair wearing a red and blue uniform. The miniature is enamel on copper and the original oval frame of gilt-brass with a gold front is set in a later rectangular tortoiseshell and copper, gold and silver alloy frame.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1756 (made)

Artist/maker

Spencer, Gervase (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Enamel on copper, gilt-brass and copper, gold and silver alloy tortoiseshell frames

Marks and inscriptions

Signed and dated 'G.S./1756'
In red on lower right

Inscribed 'George Spencer, Duke of Marlborough, from Rev Hawkins Collection'
On paper label on reverse

Dimensions

Height: 5.5 cm, Width: 4.4 cm, Depth: 0.46 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Reverend Hawkins Collection. D.S. Lavender, 1980.

Descriptive line

Enamel miniature on copper of George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough, in a gilt-brass and copper, gold and silver alloy tortoiseshell frames, England, 1756, by Gervase Spencer.

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

Coffin, Sarah and Bodo Hofstetter. Portrait Miniatures in Enamel. London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd. in association with the Gilbert Collection, 2000. 168 p., ill. Cat. no. 52, p. 103. ISBN 0856675334.

Labels and date

George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough
1756

George Spencer (1739–1817) succeeded his father to
become 4th Duke of Marlborough in 1758. He lived
at Blenheim Palace.

England; Gervase Spencer (about 1715–63)
Enamel on copper in original gilded brass rim,
set in later frame of tortoiseshell and copper,
gold and silver alloy
Signed and dated in red on lower right ‘G.S. 1756’;
inscribed on paper label on reverse
‘George Spencer Duke of Marlborough
from Rev Hawkins Collection’
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.277-2008 [2009]

Materials

Enamel; Copper; Gilt-brass; Gold; Tortoise shell

Techniques

Painting (image-making); Gilding; Framing

Subjects depicted

Male

Categories

Enamels; Metalwork; Portraits

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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