The Pearl Earring

John Smart, dated 1761


Born in 1742, John Smart’s earliest recorded miniatures were painted in 1760 whilst he was still in his teens, making this piece amongst his very first completed portraits. Meticulously painted and with fine detailing, it shows a lady in a vibrant blue dress with a patterned bodice, the neckline trimmed with narrow white lace. Over the dress, she has a white surcoat overstitched in a diamond pattern and studded with seed pearls that are matched by her pearl drop earrings. Her brown hair has been drawn back and is covered by a delicate black and white lace cap.

True to Smart’s earliest technique, the facial features are shaded with a blueish tinge. The portrait is signed on the obverse J. S. / 1761. (Set against the dark background, the signature has been tricky to capture an image of.) The portrait is set in the original gold bracelet style frame. This is currently attached to a later pinchbeck link chain bracelet making this portrait eminently wearable!

Item Ref. 5695

Size: 34 x 28mm (1⅜ x 1⅛")