An unknown young woman thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F , Case RMC, Shelf 3, Box J

An unknown young woman

Portrait Miniature
ca. 1800 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This miniature is framed in a locket with a hair ornament set on the reverse. The fashion for hair ornaments set in the back of miniature lockets developed in the late 18th century. The giving of tokens of hair was a long-established practice. When Queen Charlotte appointed Samuel Finney as her miniature painter in 1763, she sent him a lock of her hair. This, he wrote in his memoir, should be 'preserved by his family with the same care and reverence as a good catholick would the relicks of his patron Saint'. The back of a miniature provided a perfect setting for such tokens, but the fashion for hair ornaments grew to such an extent that they were sometimes merely decorative rather than sentimental. It is not clear whether these two curls of hair joined by a band of seed pearls come from the sitter or are merely ornamental.


Object details

Categories
Object type
TitleAn unknown young woman (generic title)
Materials and techniques
Watercolour on ivory
Brief description
Portrait of an unknown woman. Miniature on ivory by Mary Ann Knight, ca.1800.
Physical description
Portrait, head and shoulders, to left and looking to front, of a young woman. The sitter has a white scarf in her hair. This miniature has a hair ornament set on the reverse of the locket.
Dimensions
  • Height: 6cm
  • Width: 4.8cm
Dimensions taken from Victoria & Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1952. London: HMSO, 1963.
Styles
Credit line
Purchased from the funds of the R. H. Stephenson Bequest
Object history
This miniature was part of Lot 30 at Messrs. Sotheby's sale on 25 November 1952.
Subject depicted
Summary
This miniature is framed in a locket with a hair ornament set on the reverse. The fashion for hair ornaments set in the back of miniature lockets developed in the late 18th century. The giving of tokens of hair was a long-established practice. When Queen Charlotte appointed Samuel Finney as her miniature painter in 1763, she sent him a lock of her hair. This, he wrote in his memoir, should be 'preserved by his family with the same care and reverence as a good catholick would the relicks of his patron Saint'. The back of a miniature provided a perfect setting for such tokens, but the fashion for hair ornaments grew to such an extent that they were sometimes merely decorative rather than sentimental. It is not clear whether these two curls of hair joined by a band of seed pearls come from the sitter or are merely ornamental.
Bibliographic reference
Victoria & Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1952. London: HMSO, 1963.
Collection
Accession number
P.41-1952

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Record createdJuly 14, 2003
Record URL
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