A Fine c.1760-90 English Provincial School Portrait of a Young Girl with a Robin


Origin: English
Period: George III
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1760-90
Canvas Height: 14 inches
Canvas Width: 12 inches
In Frame: 20.25 x 18.25 inches

The George III period provincial oil on canvas, depicting half length portrait of a seated child in green with white lace edged collar, the young girl full of face and shown holding a robin, the whole presented in its original decorative gold swept frame.

The painting is apparently unsigned and in un-cleaned condition. The overall condition is good and original with an even craquelure apparent with no tenting or paint loss. There are some white markings to the upper edge and some losses to the gesso on the frame, which is probably original to the picture.

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.

In the mid 18th century attitudes to children and childhood began to change. Children were no longer perceived simply as small adults and childhood began to be recognised as an independent state associated with nature. Animal companions were an important part of 18th Century life and artists thus increasingly portrayed children outdoors in natural settings or surrounded by natural objects.

We have seen pictures of children with parrots, and other such birds but we have not seen a robin before and we can only find one other portrait of this age showing a child with a robin having been sold which was a full-length portrait. Thus, this important detail elevates the picture above others of a similar type.

A charming portrait of a well loved child and a rare depiction of Britain’s best-loved bird.