This portrait dates to the early part of Engleheart’s career, when his style was closer to that of John Smart, capturing the smallest of details in a fine, graphic technique. Later as he became more successful his technique evolved to keep up with his demanding schedule and he worked in looser brush strokes. The present work also owes a debt to Sir Joshua Reynolds in the composition, the sitter’s averted gaze demonstrating a parallel with the oil portraits of the period.
1773, Engleheart gained much from patronage, probably from his exhibits at the Royal Academy. His career advanced with great rapidity and his popularity as an artist continued to gain momentum throughout his life. His success was eventually recognized by his appointment as miniature painter to the king in 1789. A sociable, but not ostentatious character (unlike his main rival, Richard Cosway), his closest circle included artists and poets, including William Hayley, George Romney, William Blake, John Flaxman, and Jeremiah Meyer. One of Engleheart’s miniatures of his friend William Hayley (1809) is now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. In 1827 Engleheart moved to Blackheath, Kent, to live with his son Nathaniel, and he died there on 21 March 1829; he was buried in the family vault at Kew church where his gravestone can still be found.