An enamel portrait of  Count Hugo Mensdorff  in uniform, after Sir William Charles Ross
An enamel portrait of  Count Hugo Mensdorff  in uniform, after Sir William Charles Ross
An enamel portrait of  Count Hugo Mensdorff  in uniform, after Sir William Charles Ross

WILLIAM ESSEX (1784-1869)

An enamel portrait of Count Hugo Mensdorff in uniform, after Sir William Charles Ross

1850 United Kingdom

Offered by Ellison Fine Art

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William Essex trained as an enamel painter in the workshop of Charles Muss (1779 - 1824), Enamel Painter to William IV. Essex first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1818 and throughout the 1820s and early 1830s built up a successful practice, working chiefly in enamel. William Essex must have had his first introduction to court circles through Charles Muss. He may initially have worked in collaboration with his teacher, but by 1827 was earning his own commissions from George IV. In 1834 Essex painted an enamel miniature of Charlotte, Duchess of Northumberland, governess to Queen Victoria, after Sir Thomas Lawrence; although he was already well established in royal circles, his patronage by the Duchess of Northumberland may have been an additional factor that contributed to his appointment as Enamel Painter to Queen Victoria in 1837 and Enamel Painter to Prince Albert in 1841. Queen Victoria employed Essex to make numerous enamel copies of portraits of her after Franz Xaver Winterhalter, which were set into bracelets and distributed as gifts. He also made numerous copies of portraits of her relatives and contemporaries. Most of these were commissioned within the same year as the original on which they were based, and were often given by Queen Victoria to Prince Albert. He also made historical copies of early miniatures and portraits at Windsor. Despite Essex's ostensible success, however, he fell into poverty in his later years and was forced to request that the Queen supplement his artist's annuity of £40 with a pension. This enamel was a posthumous copy by Essex after the sketch by William Ross dated 1842 (913791). There is another example of this enamel in the Royal Collection

Count Hugo Mensdorff-Pouilly was the eldest son of Count Emanuel Mensdorff-Pouilly and of Sophie, daughter of Francis, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, and first cousin of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He pursued a career in the Austrian army and became a colonel commandant of a regiment of Austrian Cuirassiers. Queen Victoria lamented the early death, aged forty-one, of this 'most kind hearted, honest, affectionate being, the most dutiful & loving of sons & kindest of friends and relations' (Journal: 29 October 1847).
Good
Commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1850
Dimensions
Height 5.50 cm (2.17 inches)
Stock Code
5035
Medium
enamel on copper
Signed/Inscribed
Signed, dated and inscribed on the counter-enamel in black paint: Count Hugo Mensdorff / B: Aug.t 24 1804 / Died Oct.r 20 1847. / Painted after Sir W. Ross 1842 / by W. Essex Enamel painter / to Her Majesty & H.R.H. / Prince Albert / 1850.
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