Emily Elizabeth Swinburne

Manner of Cosway


Painted in watercolour over pencil on lightweight laid paper, this portrait shows a lady in a décolleté dress secured on the neckline with a ribbon bow, her hair swept up over pads with curls tumbling over her shoulders. A label identifies her as Emily Elizabeth Swinburne.

Born in 1798, Emily Elizabeth was the fifth child of Sir John Edward Swinburne, 6th Baronet and Emilia Elizabeth Bennet. She grew up at Capheaton Hall near Newcastle and, aged 26, married Sir Henry George Ward, a diplomat then stationed in Mexico. Emily joined her husband in Mexico giving birth to her first two daughters there. She enjoyed travelling and, being a talented artist, recorded their trips around Mexico in watercolours and sketches which were later compiled and published.

After three years, the young couple returned to England with Emily giving birth to her first son whilst at sea. Her wanderlust continued though and she later joined her husband to live on the Ionian Islands, Ceylon and finally in Madras where her husband died from cholera. Emily then returned home where she resided in a grace and favour apartment at Hampton Court. She died in 1882, aged 84.

The portrait one of a small collection of similar watercolour portraits of named Georgian ladies all by the same unknown hand; many are copies of known portrait miniatures by Richard Cosway. In fine condition, it resides in a period ebonised frame.

Item Ref. 3794

Size: framed, 113 x 100mm