A Fine Early 19thC English Naïve School Portrait of an Infant c.1830


Origin: English
Period: Early/Mid Nineteenth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1828-1840
Canvas Height: 10 inches
Canvas Width: 8.5 inches
The Whole: 16 X 14.5 inches

The William IV period oil on board, painted in the naïve style, depicting an infant to bust with pale blue eyes and lace dress on a tan coloured and oval shaped ground with gadrooned border, the outer corners in midnight green, the whole presented in its original laurel leaf gilt wood and gesso frame with inset border.

The painting is apparently unsigned and in un-cleaned condition. The overall condition is wonderfully original with an even craquelure apparent and there are no signs of damage the painting, or the frame. There is a gallery label verso which dates the picture and reads “Roberson and Miller…Manufacturers of water and oil colours, materials for drawing, painting & c.. 51 Long Acre, London”.

From 1828 Charles Roberson was in partnership with Thomas Miller, trading as Roberson & Miller (1828-1839) at 51 Long Acre. Roberson & Miller’s trade sheet listed watercolours in cakes and in boxes, Roberson & Miller’s prepared lead pencils, drawing papers etc, bladder colours for oil painting, ‘prepared cloths and tickens’, prepared panels and millboards, ‘hatchment cloths’, chalks, ‘brushes and pencils’, varnishes, oils and sundries. Artists using Roberson & Miller’s colours included Andrew Plimer, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Hamilton Kerr and Samuel Palmer whilst Roberson & Miller canvases were also used by J.M.W. Turner. Turner purchased paper from Roberson’s to the value of 4s.6d in May 1839. Roberson & Miller were also described as the colourmen of choice for Australian professional artists wishing to order a large stock of painting materials from England.

Within the world of portraiture, those of children occupy a special place amongst our tangible treasures. Late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century parents commissioned likenesses of their offspring for the same reasons that prompt us to bedeck our youngsters in Sunday-best attire and haul them off to the photographer's. Higher mortality rates made earlier parents keenly aware of the ephemeral nature of life, and perhaps sharpened the sense of urgency with which they sought to halt time through the illusion of portraiture.

This is a super example of naïve English school child portraiture.