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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "A fine portrait of Monsieur de Viapre"
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Look at what I found on the Online Galleries website!
set in the original gold bracelet clasp frame with garnet border
The identity of the sitter is based on the hand written inscription on the back of the sketch for this miniature, which is now in the Cleveland Museum of Art, USA. The sketch descended through the Smirke family after Smart's daughter Sarah gave a sketchbook containing preparatory portrait studies to her friend Mary Smirke. The book was subsequently divided up and sold at auction. A hint to the sitter's identity may come from the reverse of the sketch which is inscribed Sir John Lester. However, this designation was applied only to a paper backing that had been attached after the drawing had been removed from the sketch book.
Arthur Jaffe remarked in 1948 that the sketch was probably John Lester of Poole, Dorset who was knighted in 1802. However there are no known portraits of Lester at this date to make this attribution conclusive
What is interesting are the notes that Smart inscribed on the back on the sketch which suggests that the sitter was to have a "scarlet coat and green waistcoat" and that it was to intended to be set into a bracelet. The graphite inscription below Smart's notes "Monsieur De Viapre" appear to be in another hand and may have been added when the sketch book was divided up.
The miniature, for which the sketch is in the Cleveland Museum, is in good condition, although the minor restoration to the lips accounts for the slightly different shape between sketch and finished portrait.
We are grateful to Cory Korkow, PhD, for her assistance in the cataloguing of this miniature and to the Cleveland Museum for giving us permission to reproduce the sketch