Charlotte Trevanion

James Leakey


This blushing young lady is Charlotte Trevanion, depicted here in a high-waisted dress accessorized with a pearl necklace and drop earrings. Her hair falls over one shoulder, the rest drawn back in a plaited knot secured with a gold and pearl comb and dressed with a pink ribbon and braided hair bandeau.

Charlotte Hosea was born in 1782; her father died that same year. At the age of eighteen, she married John Trevanion Purnell Bettesworth-Trevanion, a Cornish politician and MP. Described as “a complete man of fashion . . . without anything frivolous or effeminate”, Trevanion was then just 21 years old. The young couple lived at Caerhays in Cornwall, home to the Trevanion family since the 14th century. But Charlotte’s husband had ambitions so he commissioned the renowned architect John Nash to build him a Gothic style castle, no expense spared. Work began in 1807 and did not complete until 1810 by which time Travanion was stony broke. Meantime Charlotte had given birth to five children over seven years. She tragically died in 1810, aged just 27, and was buried at Caerhays alongside her infant daughter who died before her third birthday. Following Charlotte’s death, her husband fled to Paris to escape his creditors never to return to his beloved castle. He died in Brussels thirty years later.

Watercolour on ivory set in an attractive gold bracelet style frame with a surround of seed pearls and chased decoration to the reverse. There is an arched 10mm scratch to the base at 4 o’clock. This is really only visible in a raking light or through a glass; the camera lens has also picked it up.

The son of an Exeter wool-stapler (a dealer in wool), Leakey painted oil portraits and landscapes as well as miniatures, working mostly in his home town and the south west of England. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1821 and 1846. Leakey was much in demand and is said to have abandoned a planned move to Canada because he had so many outstanding commissions. Upon retirement he became a Calvinist preacher; at least three of his eleven children also became church ministers.

APHA Registered

Item Ref. 7475

Size: framed, 57 x 47mm