Golden Embroidery

Gervase Spenser, 1748


In 1748, the year this portrait was painted, a fire burned in the City of London for two days, the ruins of Pompeii were re-discovered and a richly coloured butterfly found in London was named the Camberwell Beauty.

Also richly coloured is this lady’s royal blue dress embroidered on the bodice and sleeves with gold thread. With its ruff collar and puffed sleeves, the dress is Elizabethan in style and may have been influenced by old master paintings of the days.

Painted in enamel on copper and signed on the reverse – – G. Spencer fect. / Lond. 1748, it is housed in a glazed gilt metal mount. As is usual with enamel painting, the colours remain vibrant. There is a small white mark to the bodice of the dress and scattered dust trapped under the glass but otherwise the portrait is fine.

Gervase Spencer’s career as a miniaturist began whilst he was working as a footman in a London household during the 1740s. He appears to have been self-taught as an artist and went on to exhibit at the Society of Artists in 1761 and 1762.

Item Ref. 9115

Size: framed, 50 x 42mm

Provenance: Christie's July 1990 ; Valerie Eliot collection, 2013