Ermine & Pearls

Luke Sullivan (1705-1771)


The wearing of ermine has long been associated with royalty and nobility so it can be deduced that this lady in her ermine-trimmed surcoat belonged in the English aristocracy. The bodice of her dress is richly embroidered in gold with pearls whilst her upswept hair is also decorated with a feather and pearl jewel to match her large pearl drop earrings.

Born in Co. Louth in 1705, Luke Sullivan was the son of a groom. As a youth, he showed a promising talent for drawing that enabled him to receive training under an engraver. His luck continued when he was hired by artist and engraver William Hogarth as an assistant. He later took up miniature painting and exhibited from 1764. Sullivan was a bon vivant, and was said to be a lively character and dashingly handsome. He frequented brothels and lodged at the White Bear a coaching inn on Piccadilly where he died in miserable poverty in 1771.

The portrait is set in its original 14ct gold frame and is in excellent condition.

Item Ref. 6583

Size: 36 x 30mm + frame