Bewhiskered

John Bogle, 1796

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Eighteenth century gentlemen, benefitting from the invention of better razor blades and a fashion for face creams, did not favour beards but preferred to be clean shaven. The trend for side-whiskers only took off during the early 1800s so this gentleman with his bushy side-whiskers, painted in 1796, was ahead of his time. The introduction of the Hair Powder Tax in 1795 persuaded most gentlemen to ditch their wigs and wear their hair au naturel. For older gentleman with naturally grey hair, as seen here, the difference in appearance was minimised though the difference in comfort would have been significant.

The well-painted facial features in this portrait convey a gentleman of lively character. He is shown wearing a smart blue-grey frock coat with deep lapels over an ivory waistcoat, his cravat tied in a neat bow. The portrait is signed – I. Bogle. / Pinxt / 1796. In fine condition, it resides in a gold frame, the reverse with a decorative gold edge and blue, white and gold enamel border surrounding a lock of brown hair tied with gold wire.

Scottish-born, John Bogle studied in Glasgow having enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts that had been founded by his two older brothers. He subsequently worked as a miniaturist, first in Edinburgh and later in London. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1772 and 1794. Bogle returned to his native Scotland with his wife in 1800 where he died three years later. Contemporary biographer Allen Cunningham colourfully described him as “a little lame man, very proud, very poor and very singular”.

Item Ref. 7226

Size: framed, 77 x 64mm

Provenance: With Hans E. Backer Antiques, 1954 ; Edward Grosvenor Paine collection, 1979 ; Gordon Barnett collection, 2001