Auburn Curls

Charles Robertson


The son of a Dublin jeweller, Charles Robertson (1760-1821) 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 a lady from the Cockerell family. Painted during the 1790s, it shows a blue-eyed lady with tumbling auburn curls wearing a white cross-over gown with a frilled neckline. Despite having faded a little over the centuries, the portrait retains its skilful modelling. It is presented in the original gold frame with a bright-cut edging and plaited brown hair on the reverse.

Item Ref. 6417

Size: framed, 52 x 44mm