‘Master Park’, acquired by the discerning early 20th century collector Edwin Marriott Hodgkins, from the Plimer family via their auction at Christie’s, was James Parke, 1st Baron Wensleydale (1782-1868). A successful barrister in later life, he was appointed to the Court of the King’s Bench in 1828, made a Privy Counsellor in 1833 and in 1834 a Baron of the Exchequer. He was junior counsel for the Pains and Penalties Bill in 1820 against Caroline of Brunswick. One of his three daughters (Mary) was an accomplished artist and married Charles Howard – becoming the mother of the arts patron and artist George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle.
In describing the present miniature, the author G. C. Williamson could not restrain his praise, stating that, ‘One of the most engaging portraits which can be imagined is that of Master Parke […]. There is a charm about this miniature which must appeal to everyone.’ Certainly, Plimer has captured the youthful confidence of a boy who would go on to achieve great things – touches of naturalism, such as the boy’s uneven fringe and ruffled collar give the portrait an attractive vivacity, the colours kept out of the light by the red leather case.
Andrew Plimer was born in Shropshire, his father was a clockmaker and after being expected to enter the same trade, he and his brother Nathaniel reputedly ran away, arriving in London in 1781. In London, Andrew entered the employment of Richard Cosway as a servant. After receiving lessons from the well-established artist, Plimer set up on his own in 1785 in Maddox Street before moving to Golden Square one year later, then a highly fashionable part of the city. Plimer appears to have travelled around; in 1801 he was working throughout Devon and Cornwall, in 1815 he lived in Exeter and in 1835 he moved to Brighton where he died two years later.
G. C. Williamson, Andrew & Nathaniel Plimer, Miniature Painters, Their Lives and their Works, London, 1903, p. 45