Smiling Tightly

Frederick Buck (1765-1840)


The Irish artist Frederick Buck may be best known for his portraits of officers commissioned as they passed through the busy port of Cork on their way to foreign campaigns, but his portraits of ladies are also nonetheless distinctive.

Buck was active during the Regency period when ladies’ fashions moved away from tightly laced corsets and full skirts to follow classical ideals that celebrated the natural figure. Dresses fell loosely from under the bustline to create a graceful silhouette. Sometimes referred to as the ‘age of undress’, sheer fabrics were popular, arms were often left bare and bosoms revealed. Hair styles too were less fussy with cropped hair and natural unpowdered curls being the style of choice especially for the young. Fashion magazines were launched around this time so it became much easier to keep up with all the latest trends.

So this lady dressed all in white, the modesty protected by a lightweight fill-in with a little collar, is representative of the period. Her brown curls peep out from under a turban style cap.

Sadly, her name and her story have been lost to history. The portrait is set in a traditional papier-mâché frame with an acorn hanger. Both the frame and the portrait are in fine condition.

The younger son of an Irish silversmith, Frederick Buck was a prolific and resourceful artist working mostly in his native Cork where his sitters comprised the local gentry and the passing military. He married twice and had at least eight children.

Item Ref. 6713

Size: framed, 122 x 108mm (4¾ x 4¼")