Blue & Green
Achieving colourfast green fabric in the Georgian era was an expensive process involving the use of saffron and woad or indigo, all expensive ingredients. Nettles could be used but the resulting shade was not reliable and depended upon the freshness of the plants. Some green dyes also contained arsenic! So green dresses were not commonly worn during the 1770s when this young lady’s portrait was painted. Her lime green dress is worn with a white fill-in striped with blue and green, and an indigo wrap. Her hair has been swept up and braided with blue ribbon over ‘cushions’ or pads (these were often stuffed with horsehair) to create height and softened with curls on the nape of her neck.
Although unsigned, the portrait is attributed to Patrick John McMorland on the basis of comparison with a signed miniature illustrated in Foskett’s Dictionary (p.275). It is delicately painted and an engaging work.
The portrait is in good condition and is set in a gold frame with a hanging ring and a brooch clasp. Under magnification, there is small area of paint loss to the outside edge at 7 o’clock and a tiny edge chip to the glass at 10 o’clock; neither are visible to the naked eye. The reverse of the frame shows light wear.
A Scottish-born artist, Patrick John (Pat) McMoreland mainly worked in the north-west of England. Between 1774 and 1777, and again after 1793, he was based in Manchester where he also gave lectures on art. From 1781 he worked in Liverpool. He was a versatile artist working in a variety of styles and mediums.
Item Ref. 7223
Size: framed, 39 x 32mm