Ellen Quin

Charles Robertson

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The son of a Dublin jeweller, Charles Robertson (1770-1821) was trained from an early age to create hair designs, possibly for portrait miniatures painted by his elder brother Walter. Clearly a precocious child, he was only fifteen when he exhibited his first miniature painting.

During the last quarter of the eighteenth century, miniature painting was a lucrative business so it’s no surprise that bitter rivalries sometimes arose between artists such as when, in October 1779, Charles Robertson resorted to advertising in Saunders News-Letter to reassure his friends and the public that, despite “some evil-minded Persons” having reported “with an intention to injure” that he was dead, that he was indeed “living and in good Health”, ready and willing to take on commissions.

One such commission was this portrait of Ellen Quin. Painted during the 1790s, it shows a young lady with tumbling brown curls wearing a white cross-over gown. The portrait is set in a gilt metal frame, the reverse glazed to show neatly plaited brown hair. A handwritten label provides the family provenance.

Item Ref. 6585

Size: framed, 64 x 54mm