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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "Portrait of a Lady c.1750; Attributed to Joseph Highmore."
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The attractive sitter, expensively and fashionably dressed, looks out at the viewer with an air of quiet confidence, her head slightly turned almost in an inquiring manner. Behind her stand large stone columns, with a landscape view to her right, symbolising the wealth and power of the landed classes.
JOSEPH HIGHMORE (c.1692 - 1780) was one of the most talented and versatile English portraitists of the eighteenth century. He first trained, for five years, as a lawyer but abandoned the practice and entered Sir Godfrey Kneller's Academy in London in 1713. When he began work as a professional artist in 1715 he found his natural ability to draw a sharp likeness soon won him a large clientele in the City, while his legal education and manner helped gain access to the nobility and gentry. Such was his success that the poet John Bunce wrote the following verse soon after the death of Kneller in 1723;
“No more let Britain for her Kneller grieve
In Highmore see a rising Kneller live
Whose happy pencil claims as high a name
If equal merit challenge equal fame.”
Although Highmore’s style first followed that of Kneller (as did whole generations of early eighteenth century artists), he also assumed the more forceful and realistic characterisation of Hogarth. As a result, Highmore’s portraits soon lost much of the Augustan stiffness of Kneller, instead showing a more subtle and fluid construction. This portrait of the 1750s demonstrates a further evolution of Highmore’s style following his trip to France in 1734. Like many of his contemporaries, such as Hayman and later Gainsborough, Highmore was heavily influenced by the French rococo manner first popularised by the influential French painter and engraver Hubert Gravelot, who arrived in London in 1732.
VERSO: An old handwritten inventory label '41', an Old Christie's stencilled number, and a chalk inscription 'June 1 - 62'
|External Height||40.00 inch||(101.60 cm)|
|External Width||35.00 inch||(88.90 cm)|
|External Depth||2.75 inch||(6.98 cm)|