Object Description

Lack of definitive provenance makes it difficult to be sure that the young woman represented in this miniature is Plimer’s youngest daughter, but she bears a striking resemblance to other portraits of his daughters and particularly to those of Selina. Plimer also painted his wife (Joanna Louisa) and children in a distinctive manner, their faces particularly expressive, the composition such that the sitter’s head filled a large proportion of the frame. Other portraits of Selina show her darker in complexion than her sisters, with large, brown eyes.

George Williamson, when writing Plimer’s monograph, noted that ‘The very full expressive eyes which the Plimer girls all inherited from their mother…were very possible the prototypes of the somewhat mannered treatment of those features adopted by Plimer.’

Plimer is quite distinctive as an artist – as Williamson suggests – always endowing his sitters with large eyes and long noses and necks. This could also partially be attributed to his somewhat informal training with the miniaturist Richard Cosway (1742-1821), who initially employed Plimer as a household servant. By 1785, Plimer had established a flourishing practice of his own (in Golden Square, London), presumably gaining some excellent contacts via his efficacious master.

Between 1815-20 Plimer travelled around, establishing himself first in Exeter, and after a brief return to London, onto Scotland where he is thought to have experienced great success. In 1835 Plimer moved with his family to Brighton where he died two years later with considerable wealth. His youngest daughter Selina died unmarried in 1841.

Object History

Private British Collection

Object Classification

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