Portrait miniature of a Gentleman, probably a military or naval officer, wearing brown jerkin with gold trim and buttons, lace edged lawn collar, a crimson sash, buildings in the distance; dated 1652

GBP 12,500.00

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Object Description

Watercolour on vellum. Later gilt-metal frame with pierced scroll surmount.

Signed with monogram and dated, ‘1652. iH.’

The present work, signed with the monogram ‘iH’ for John Hoskins, probably represents a naval or military officer of the English Civil War. The sash he wears across his brown jerkin is typical of those sported by military and naval officers as a decorative element of their dress. Typically, this would then be tied at the waist.[1] A bright sash was advantageous in battle situations in identifying officers and is most clearly seen in Lely’s ‘Flagmen of Lowestoft’ portrait series, painted after the Battle of Lowestoft in 1665.

Typically, Hoskins does not shy away from depicting his sitter’s features with honesty and clarity – an element most keenly noted in the portraits by his cousin, Samuel Cooper. Although the sitter bears some resemblance to the famed general George Monck (1608-70), 1st Duke Albemarle, the careful representation of such a distinctive face does not align the features closely enough. The portrait may, however, be something of a homage to the general, and indeed possibly represent a close ally of the illustrious duke.

By 1652, the date of this portrait, the name ‘Hoskins’ was synonymous with highly sophisticated court-centric portrait miniatures, spanning both the reign of Charles I and continuing into Cromwell’s reign as Lord Protector. The existence of a signed self-portrait by Hoskins’s son, also called John, has allowed for a revision of miniatures signed with the ‘JH’ monogram after 1645 as by the younger man.[1] So successful was John Hoskins senior as an artist, partially due to his close relationship with the famed artist Anthony van Dyck, whose paintings he often interpreted in little, that the continuation of the name, and technique, from father to son may have inspired confidence in patrons.

Hoskins senior (c.1590-1664/5) was also the uncle of Samuel and Alexander Cooper, the former eventually eclipsing his uncle with his internationally recognised success. Both Hoskins senior and junior often included architecture amongst the more general topography in the background of his miniatures, and it is possible that the simple outline of an estate in the present miniature could depict the sitter’s residence or the scene of a memorable battle.

[1] See ‘Warts and All; The Portrait Miniatures of Samuel Cooper’, Philip Mould Gallery, exhibition catalogue, London, 2013, p. 144

[2] In the Collection of Duke of Buccleuch and Queensbury

Object History

Provenance: Sotheby’s, London, 19 June 1967, lot 49; Sotheby’s, London, 6 June 1996, lot 23; Private Collection, UK.

Object Details

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