A Bejewelled Gentleman

Gustavus Hamilton


The artist Gustavus Hamilton was just 24 years old when he painted this portrait in 1763. It shows a distinguished gentleman in a powdered short bob wig and collarless blue coat with matching waistcoat. The facial features are particularly well painted with blue shading used to good effect around the mouth, chin and eyelids.

The miniature is signed GH / 1763 and is set in a gold bracelet clasp frame with a decorative surround studded with cushion cut diamonds and garnets. Under magnification, there is visible dust on the coat but otherwise the portrait is in fine condition. The frame has some damage to the reverse as shown.

Born around 1739, Gustavus Hamilton was the son of an Irish vicar. As a child he was employed by Samuel Dixon along with Daniel O’Keefe and James Riley, two other budding artists and future miniaturists, to colour his embossed paper pictures of flowers and birds. The boys lived in Dixon’s house in Dublin where they ‘had a table and everything comfortable and respectable’. (1) Hamilton later studied at the Dublin Society‚Äôs Drawing Schools and went on to exhibit miniatures between 1765 and 1773. He spent all his working life in Dublin where he attracted a fashionable clientele. He was though plagued by ill health and was just 36 years of age when he died in 1775.

1 Recollections / John O’Keefe, 1826

Item Ref. 6965

Size: 33 x 28mm + jewelled surround