Anne Mee thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Portrait Miniatures, Room 90a, The International Music and Art Foundation Gallery

Anne Mee

Portrait Miniature
ca. 1795 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In the 18th century, miniature painting was a popular genteel pastime, particularly for ladies. Miniature painting could therefore offer those gentlewomen who found themselves with neither father nor husband to support them the chance to earn a living from their former pastime. This is a self-portrait by Anna Foldsone, who lost her father when young and took to miniature painting to support her mother and her many siblings. When she married, becoming generally known as ‘Mrs Mee’, she continued to paint. But the diarist Joseph Farington noted that Mrs Mee's husband ‘had consented to let her paint ladies only who were never to be attended [at the sittings] by gentlemen’. The reason for this was that painting a portrait was an intimate process, with the artist looking intently at a sitter at close quarters. This is precisely the intimacy that made it so attractive as a domestic art for ladies painting their close relations and friends. But in a professional studio, such a closeness could lead to gossip concerning impropriety. Hence, many women miniaturists chose (or were persuaded) not to work professionally after marriage. In contrast, Mrs Mee continued as a highly successful artist, most famously working at Windsor Castle on a series of paintings of ‘beauties’ - portraits of the most glamorous women attached to the Court.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Water-colour on ivory
Brief Description
Miniature self portrait by Mrs. Anne Mee, born Anne Foldsone, on ivory. Great Britain, ca.1795.
Physical Description
Oval head and shoulders miniature portrait, turned slightly to right and looking to front. The sitter is wearing a cream dress, her hair about her shoulders and fabric around her head.
Dimensions
  • Height: 7.6cm
  • Width: 5.7cm
Dimensions taken from Victoria & Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1962. London: HMSO, 1964.
Styles
Credit line
Given by Mrs Arthur R. Fuller
Subject depicted
Summary
In the 18th century, miniature painting was a popular genteel pastime, particularly for ladies. Miniature painting could therefore offer those gentlewomen who found themselves with neither father nor husband to support them the chance to earn a living from their former pastime. This is a self-portrait by Anna Foldsone, who lost her father when young and took to miniature painting to support her mother and her many siblings. When she married, becoming generally known as ‘Mrs Mee’, she continued to paint. But the diarist Joseph Farington noted that Mrs Mee's husband ‘had consented to let her paint ladies only who were never to be attended [at the sittings] by gentlemen’. The reason for this was that painting a portrait was an intimate process, with the artist looking intently at a sitter at close quarters. This is precisely the intimacy that made it so attractive as a domestic art for ladies painting their close relations and friends. But in a professional studio, such a closeness could lead to gossip concerning impropriety. Hence, many women miniaturists chose (or were persuaded) not to work professionally after marriage. In contrast, Mrs Mee continued as a highly successful artist, most famously working at Windsor Castle on a series of paintings of ‘beauties’ - portraits of the most glamorous women attached to the Court.
Bibliographic Reference
Victoria & Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1962. London: HMSO, 1964.
Collection
Accession Number
P.12-1962

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record createdFebruary 26, 2003
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