Chantry Fine Art Collection
Subject: Portrait of a Young Lady
Artist: John Opie (1761-
Provenance: Attributed by Mr Kitson -
Date: c1800 Size: 30”x 25” Condition: Superb Frame: Sympathic to the period but not necessarily the original
Details: An attractive portrait of a young lady whose attribution to John Opie was assisted by Mr Kitson, Keeper of British Art at the Walker Gallery, Liverpool.
The dark background of the work is tempered by a small loosely worked landscape to the side, a technique which Opie employed in many of his portraits of young women.
This portrait was originally attributed to the circle of Sir William Beechey. However, it came to the attention of Mr. Kitson, Keeper of British Art at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, where there is a very similar portrait. He suggested further research, and following this it is now attributed more precisely to one of Beechey’s associates, John Opie, who was Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy Schools until his untimely death at the age of 46.
Opie was a Cornishman, the son of a carpenter, who was taken up by John Wolcot, (an amateur pupil of Richard Wilson), who trained him in portraiture.
Between 1776 and 1769 Opie travelled round Cornwall and Devon as an itinerant face painter. Wolcot then brought him to London and promoted him as ‘The Cornish Wonder’.
He was patronised by Sir Joshua Reynolds who gave him lessons, and was then presented to George III and Queen Charlotte who bought his work ‘Beggar and Dog’.
Not surprisingly, he then met with almost instant success, painting some 500 portraits and exhibiting 143 works at the Royal Academy.
He was elected A.R.A. in 1786 and R.A. in 1787. His work is exhibited in many major collections.
Normally, John Opie gave portraits a plain dark background. However, in a few works -
For further comparisons see the Witt Library: Portrait of Mrs. Jordan Box 1782 -
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