Pearls and Frills

George Engleheart


The stylishly-dressed lady in this striking portrait wears a white gown with a tiered lace collar and a satin ribbon bow accessorized with a rope of creamy pearls fastened with ribbon. Her powdered curls fall over her shoulders and are decorated with a white bandeau tied in a bow at the back.

The lady is traditionally believed to be Mrs Margaretta Whitcombe (née Little). Margaretta married Samuel Whitcombe in Bristol on June 1779. A Mrs Whitcombe is listed in George Engleheart’s fee book for 1791.

The portrait dates to the middle years of Engleheart’s career when he painted with confidence and panache often using a limited colour palette. It is in excellent condition and resides in the original gold frame that is enclosed on the back with previous ownership labels affixed.

George Engleheart (1750-1829) ranks amongst the most talented of the artists that were working during the Georgian heyday of portrait miniature painting. During his career he painted a total of 4,853 portrait miniatures with 1788 being his busiest year with 228 completed commissions.

Item Ref. 7212

Size: framed, 68 x 52mm

Provenance: Frederick Alexander Szarvasy (1875-1948) - Christie's, 1948 ; Mrs Kehoe, Saltdean - Sotheby's, 1950 ; Edward Grosvenor Paine - Christie's, 1979

Literature: G.C. Williamson, George Engleheart 1750-1829, Miniature Painter to George III (1902), p.118