A Court Beauty

Susannah-Penelope Rosse aft. Cooper


A career as an artist was still unusual for women during the seventeenth century but Susannah-Penelope Gibson was in the fortunate position of growing up surrounded by paints and easels with easy access to her father’s busy studio. Reminiscent of the work of Samuel Cooper, this portrait shows a young lady of pale complexion in a low-cut azure blue gown and white under-slip accessorized with a creamy pearl necklace and pearl drop earrings. Her brown hair is drawn off her forehead with curls tumbling over her shoulder.

Watercolour on vellum backed with card and set in the original polished steel and high quality gold frame with spiral cresting. The miniature is in fine condition; the frame has some tarnishing and old dings to the reverse.

Born around 1652, Susannah-Penelope was the daughter of miniature painter Richard Gibson and his wife, Anna Shepherd. Drawn to miniature painting, Susannah became her father’s pupil. She frequently copied miniatures by Samuel Cooper and may even have worked in his studio located just a few streets away from the Gibson family home. According to the contemporary antiquary George Vertue, ‘being inamour’d with Coopers limnings [Rosse] studied and coppy’d them to perfection’. She married Michael Rosse, a local jeweller, and with him had a daughter, Elizabeth. Susannah-Penelope died in 1700. Two presumed self-portraits are held by the Victoria & Albert Museum along with other family miniatures.

Item Ref. 7356

Size: framed, 55 x 47mm + cresting