Puppy Love

Richard Cosway


Strikingly painted in monochrome shades, this enchanting portrait shows a little boy with his best friend, an adoring spaniel. The boy is dressed in adult-style clothes: a coat with large buttons and deep cuffs over a shirt with a wide lace-trimmed collar.

Dating to the 1770s, the portrait is set in the original gold frame that is reeded on the side and enclosed on the back.

Born in Devon in 1742, Richard Cosway went to London at the age of twelve to study under the artist William Shipley. He then entered the Royal Academy Schools and began to exhibit. He and his wife Maria were the arbiters of Regency fashion and their studio was like a magnet for the fashionable and would-be fashionable of London society including those prominent in the arts. Flamboyant in his own dress, Cosway was an excellent self-promoter and frequented public events like the theatre and picture sales to be seen and admired. Describing his portraits in her Memoirs, Cosway’s friend, the novelist Elizabeth Inchbald, remarked – ‘if he could not add to the refinement in his sitter, he never lost a particle of it’.

Item Ref. 7235

Size: framed, 49 x 45mm

Provenance: Christie's October 1974 ; Christie's March 1989