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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "Nicholas Dixon, circa 1683, after Peter Lely, circa 1665"
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Dimensions: Rectangular, 7 1/2 inches high in tooled frame.
The large size and three quarter length format with curtain and sky background recalls the large cabinet miniatures of Samuel Cooper, in particular that of Charles II, now at Good wood. (cf. Foskett, 1974, col. Plate 9). Following Cooper’s death, Richard Gibson and then Nicholas Dixon became the King’s limner, 1673. It is thought that Dixon received this highly acclaimed post because he was Cooper’s pupil and because Dixon continued to produce miniatures and “paintings in little” in the painterly technique begun by Cooper in the 1660’s. In addition Dixon was Keeper of the King's Pictures. His artistic prowess was therefore, channelled into making copies for the King, largely taken from paintings by Cooper, Kneller and Lely, as is the case here. In 1684 he organised a lottery of "excellent miniature paintings". He described them as "a collection of Pictures in limning not to be equalled anywhere." The lottery consisted of copies after the Old Masters painted by himself. The lottery failed and 70 of them were transferred to John Holles, Duke of Newcastle, for £430 (approximately £35,000 today ). Thirty of them remain at Welbeck Abbey, the whereabouts of the other 40 are unknown. Although no signature has been found on this portrait the scale and flair are unmistakably Dixon's - the almond shaped eyes being a distinctive trait of his hand. For other cabinet miniatures by Dixon of James, see the Welbeck Collection, one such miniature is illustrated here