The Irish Volunteer

Charles Robertson


During the last quarter of the eighteenth century, miniature painting was a lucrative business so it’s no surprise that bitter rivalries sometimes arose between artists such as when, in October 1779, Charles Robertson resorted to advertising in Saunders News-Letter in Dublin to reassure his friends and the public that, despite “some evil-minded Persons” having reported “with an intention to injure” that he was dead, that he was indeed “living and in good Health”, ready and willing to take on commissions.

One of those commissions was this portrait of a young Field Officer in a regiment of Irish Volunteers wearing a scarlet coat with silver epaulettes, his silver belt plate showing a crowned harp.

The portrait is set in the original gold frame, the reverse with foiled blue glass surrounding an aperture filled with plaited hair.

The son of a Dublin jeweller, Charles Robertson (c1760-1821) was trained from an early age to create hair designs, possibly for portrait miniatures painted by his elder brother Walter. Clearly a precocious child, he was only fifteen when he exhibited his first miniature painting.

Item Ref. 7272

Size: framed, 78 x 66mm

Provenance: Bonhams, November 2003