Foppish Mr Butts

Ozias Humphry RA


In a richly coloured maroon coat and frilled cravat, this distinguished and urbane-looking gentleman with arched eyebrows wears a powdered wig tied in a queue at the back and with side buckles. His lightly tanned complexion suggests the portrait was probably painted during the artist’s sojourn in Italy between 1773 and 1777.

Signed with the artist’s monogram of H within an O, the portrait is set in the original gold bracelet style frame with the later addition of a hanging ring. The frame is engraved on the reverse with the sitter’s name, Mr Butts. There are a few light specks of dust under the glass and a tiny ding to the reverse of the frame; otherwise the miniature is in fine condition with strong original colours.

Born and brought up in Devon, Ozias Humphry arrived in London as a teenager to study art. Following the death of his father, he became apprenticed to the miniature painter Samuel Collins in Bath but Collins proved unreliable and so the relationship was officially dissolved. Humphry’s first commission – to copy an unfinished miniature by Collins – was so well received that, rather than the requested three guineas price, the recipient gave him a gold coin. Flushed with success, Humphry had a special purse made for the coin and kept it by him thereafter as a lucky charm.

Item Ref. 6826

Size: 41 x 35mm

Exhibited: Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1889 (on loan from Aveling Green)

Literature: G. C. Williamson, Life and Works of Ozias Humphry, RA, London: 1918, p. 265