Portrait enamel of a Lady, possibly Isabella Fitzroy, Duchess of Grafton, in open pink day gown with lace underdress, her long brown hair falling behind her right shoulder; circa 1740s

GBP 5,000.00

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Object Description

Enamel on copper, gold frame with reeded border,

Although the sitter in this enamel portrait has not been identified, it could possibly be Isabella Bennet Fitzroy, Duchess of Grafton (1668-1723), a prominent female figure in British history during the 17th and 18th centuries. Although she would have been in her late 30s/early 40s when painted, at this point of his career, Zincke often sought to minimize signs of aging, a practice not unique to Zincke during this period.

Isabella was the only daughter of Henry Bennet, 1st Earl of Arlington (1618-1685), a Royalist commander, and of Elisabeth of Naussau (1633-1718), granddaughter of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange. At the age of only four, she was married to nine-year-old Henry Fitzroy (1672-1690), Early of Euston, the illegitimate son of King Charles II and his mistress Barbara Villiers. Isabella held the prestigious title of Duchess of Grafton until her husband’s death in 1690. They had two children, Charles Fitzroy, 2nd Duke of Grafton and Lady Isabella Fitzroy, later Duchess of Queensberry. Isabella’s second husband was Thomas Hanmer (1677-1746), a politician and Speaker of the House of Commons who was over 10 years younger than her.

It is difficult to identify a sitter using facial comparisons, especially with an artist such as Zincke who presented his subjects in alignment with societal ideals of beauty. However, in this case Isabella’s features remain consistent and repetitive in her portraits by numerous artists. She had distinct facial features, notably her long angular nose and long brown hair which often fell over one of her shoulders in representations of her. An engraving by John Smith (1652-1743) after Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723), shows the Duchess wearing a similar loose-fitting dress, with her long braid falling over her left shoulder.[1] The most famous painting of her by Sir Godfrey Kneller again shows her brown locks draping over her shoulder.[2] Her facial features in this portrait are almost identical to the portrait miniature sitter, notably her long nose with a sharp tapered tip. Pieter Schenck’s engraving of the Duchess[3], after Sir Godfrey Kneller and Dutch painter Willem Wissing’s 1686 portrait of Isabella[4] are the most distinct examples of Isabella’s angular nose tip. Zincke would have likely been aware of Wissing’s portrait paintings, as both artist’s worked in similar circles. Like Wissing, Zincke’s clientele were often English aristocracy and nobility, and it is likely he would have known of Isabella because of this. Zincke had also painted Isabella’s son, Charles Fitzroy, numerous times, an example of which is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. [5]

Dresden born enameller Christian Friedrich Zincke came from a family of goldsmiths. He first came to England in 1706 to work at Charles Boit’s studio, shifting his focus from goldsmithing to miniature portrait painting. Boit (1662-1727) was a Swedish-born painter who became one of the most prominent portrait painters in late 17th century England, receiving regular commissions from Queen Anne and her family. When Boit left for France eight years later, Zincke inherited many of his fashionable clients, going on to become one of the most successful enamel painters of his era. He gained the patronage of notable figures including King George II and Queen Caroline.

From 1715 onwards, he often copied portraits of Peter Lely and Sir Godfrey Kneller, replicating them as enamel portraits. For example, his portrait miniature of George II, c.1727, was adapted from Kneller’s official portrait of George II dating from 1716. (RCIN 404389; Royal Collection).

Zincke helped popularize enamel portraits in this period, and was most known for this technique, where powdered glass is fused onto a surface, typically metal.

[1] Now at the National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG D11594

[2] This work was part of a series of eight portrait called the Hampton Court Beauties, commissioned by Queen Mary II in the 1690s. It was painted in between 1690-1, following her husband’s death at the age of 27from wounds sustained during the siege of Cork. The full-length portrait in now part of the Royal Collection Trust and is currently displayed in Hampton Court Palace in the King’s Private Dining Room.

[3] Now in the National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG D2495

[4] Sold at Sotheby’s ‘Important British Paintings’ sale, Lot 18

[5] Charles, 2nd Duke of Grafton portrait miniature by Christian Friedrich Zincke, ca 1730, Victoria and Albert Museum, EVANS.320

Object History

Private Collection, UK.

Object Details

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