Lady in Profile

James H. Gillespie


Painted on card and with a distinctive background of burnt orange hatching, this watercolour profile is by the hand of James H. Gillespie, a prolific Anglo-American miniaturist. It shows a lady in a pale patterned dress with a high waist and a frilled neckline worn with a double ruff collar fill-in. The neckline is delicately trimmed with cornflower blue ribbon that matches the rosette and spotted ribbon ties on her cap. Note too her glistening gold hoop earring.

Born in 1793, Gillespie began painting before 1815. By 1820 he claimed to have completed 17,000 likenesses. He toured the market towns throughout the Midlands into Northern England and the Scottish Borders painting on average 500 profiles in a variety of styles at each location. He was particularly busy in the fast-growing town of Preston where he painted nearly 1,100 likenesses but was less popular in Daventry where he only received 160 commissions. Around 1825 Gillespie left the British Isles for a new life in Nova Scotia from where he worked his way down the east coast of America.

In fine condition, the portrait is housed in the original papier-mâché frame with a traditional acorn hanger.

Item Ref. 4056

Size: framed, 134 x 112mm (5¼ x 4⅜")