Lost in Thought
Writing in The Walpole Society journal in 1829, the art historian Basil Long describes the miniaturist Richard Crosse as “an excellent draughtsman” whose “miniatures never look laboured”. This is indeed exemplified by this small portrait of a lady whose pensive gaze is directed away from her audience. Wearing a white dress trimmed with gold under a blue surcoat, her brown hair is swept up in loose braids and topped with a delicate head dress that drapes over one shoulder.
Like his contemporary miniaturists, Charles Shirreff and S. T. Roche, Richard Crosse was deaf and dumb, as was one of his sisters. He initially began painting as a hobby but when, whilst still a teenager, he won a prize at the Society of Arts he felt inspired to enrol at a London art school. He became a successful portrait artist with a distinguished clientele that included royalty.
Another life event that shaped Crosse’s character and career was his unrequited love for his cousin. This disappointment turned him into a somewhat bitter recluse but it also galvanised him to immerse himself in his art. The unhappy couple were briefly reunited in old age on the eve of the lady’s death. It is recorded that seeing her “broken and dying”, Crosse “felt all his affection return … and burst into a paroxysm of tears, as if his very heart-strings would crack”. No wonder then that his portraits have a sensitivity and a softness to them.
The portrait is set in what appears to be the original gold frame that is enclosed on the back. Both portrait and frame are in fine condition.
Item Ref. 6154
Size: framed, 45 x 35mm