Portrait miniature of a Young Gentleman, possibly William Courtney, 9th Earl of Devon (c.1768-1835), half-turned, wearing a green robe and lace cravat, landscape in the background, c.1775
Portrait miniature of a Young Gentleman, possibly William Courtney, 9th Earl of Devon (c.1768-1835), half-turned, wearing a green robe and lace cravat, landscape in the background, c.1775

JAMES SCOULER (1741-1812)

Portrait miniature of a Young Gentleman, possibly William Courtney, 9th Earl of Devon (c.1768-1835), half-turned, wearing a green robe and lace cravat, landscape in the background, c.1775

c. 1775 United Kingdom

Offered by Philip Mould & Company

£3,500 gbp
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The son of an organ builder, James Scouler was born in Edinburgh in 1741. Along with his cousin, John Brown, who also became a miniaturist, Scouler likely studied under the tutelage of William Delacour in Edinburgh, before Scouler and his cousin decided to leave for London. The prize that was awarded to Scouler in 1755 – at the tender age of fifteen – by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce indicates that the young artist’s talents had manifested themselves at a remarkably young age. When he moved to London, Scouler continued to further his education, studying casts from the great works of classical statuary at the Duke of Richmond’s Gallery, which opened in 1758, and taking lessons at the St Martin’s Lane Academy, founded and run by William Hogarth. His training complete, Scouler soon set about establishing his career as a professional artist. From 1761 Scouler exhibited at the Society of Artists where his works were well received. Although the Royal Academy opened in 1769, Scouler only chose to exhibit there from 1780. An artist of diverse talents, Scouler sought to offer an output that was ever more diverse in appearance and technique, exhibiting portraits in chalks from 1773 and in crayons from 1775. Scouler’s style as an artist continued to mature and develop, with Schidlof demarcating the year 1790 as the start of Scouler’s “second period” during which the resemblance of his miniatures to the works of John Smart diminished whilst at the same time they acquired a greater similarity to the works of artists such as Horace Hone. It was Schidlof who paid particular tribute to the ‘quality’ of Scouler’s work, further observing tha the ‘painted finely and with great skill’.

The sitter is shown wearing ‘Van Dyck’ dress. This was highly fashionable in the mid-eighteenth century among sitters who wished to emulate the aristocratic nonchalance that is embodied in Van Dyck’s portraiture. Shown in a wooded landscape, the sitter is depicted in a way that evokes the same aristocratic ideals as Thomas Gainsborough’s Blue Boy – which also shows a youth in ‘Van Dyck’ dress. It has been speculated that the sitter is a member of the Courtenay family, of which William, the 9th Earl of Devon – who was by far the most notorious eighteenth-century representative of the dynasty – would, on grounds of age, be a possible candidate.
Private Collection UK
Dimensions
Height 38.00 mm (1.50 inches)
Stock Code
C755
Medium
Watercolour on ivory, in a later, moulded gilt bracelet clasp
Signed/Inscribed
Signed, 'JS'
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