The Midshipman

Circle of Engleheart


It was not uncommon for boys as young as ten to be sent to sea as midshipmen. The role of a midshipman included rigging sails, keeping watch and running messages between decks. Whilst at sea they were also taught mathematics and navigational skills; many were encouraged to keep logs of their voyages.

It is likely that this portrait was painted for the boy’s mother as a keepsake before her son went to sea for the first time. He looks so young and vulnerable with his strawberry blonde curls showing under his bicorn hat. Sadly his identity is no longer remembered, though we do at least have his initials – H J – picked out in seed pearls on the reverse of the frame.

The portrait is very well-painted and is in fine condition. It is set in the original gold frame, the reverse set with foiled blue glass.

Item Ref. JH016

Size: framed, 63 x 52mm

Provenance: UK Private Collection