Soprano Nancy Storace

James Scouler


“Her beautiful eyes, her white neck, her beautiful throat, her fresh mouth, made a charming effect.” Count Karl von Zinzendorf, 1783

This gracefully poised portrait shows a contemplative lady in a park landscape with a classical column and trees in the background. She wears an elegantly draped dress of cream silk edged in blue and red with a jewel on her sleeve. Her brown hair is upswept and secured with a blue and green ribbon in the fashion of the day, a long braid hanging over her shoulder.

An old inscription on the reverse of the portrait names the lady as the famous eighteenth century soprano, Nancy Storace (1765-1817). Born into a musical family – her father played the double-bass and arranged music, her older brother was to write operas – Nancy was singing on stage when just eight years old. She trained in Italy where she joined an opera company and sang leading roles in several world premieres during the 1780s. She counted Mozart and Haydn amongst her close friends. Nancy returned to England in 1787 where she continued to perform at high profile concerts and in her brother’s operas. She died suddenly in 1817.

Painted presumably following Nancy’s return to England, the portrait is in fine condition. There is light dust under the glass which has been caught and over-emphasised by the camera. It is housed in a silver frame with a polished marcasite-like border. The inner rim of the frame has slight damage at 6 o’clock where a previous owner attempted to open the frame. The enclosed back bears an erroneous label for Gervase Spenser.

The son of a harpsichord maker and the cousin of John Brown, another miniaturist, James Scouler shows talent from an early age. He studied in London where he exhibited from 1761. His finest work, of which this is an example, is painted with great precision and aptitude.

Item Ref. 7207

Size: framed, 54 x 46mm