The Tabby Kitten

Sampson Towgood Roche


This delightful portrait shows a rosy-cheeked girl wearing a white wide-shouldered dress trimmed with cornflower blue ribbon bows, her hair in long ringlets, seated before a classical stone column with a gorgeous wide-eyed tabby kitten under her arm.

The inclusion of a stone column is a recurrent motif in Roche’s work. The portrait is in fine condition and is set in the original papier-mâché frame with a floral hanger.

Born in 1757, Sampson Towgood Roche (also spelled Roch) was the eldest son of William and Mary Roch of Youghal, Co. Cork. Despite being born deaf and dumb, he showed an early talent for drawing. Advertising in a Dublin newspaper in 1778, Roche offered striking likenesses ‘even to the smallest size’ for just one guinea. He goes on to plead that ‘his Misfortunes, Abilities, Attention and moderate Price will insure him support in his own Country’. He worked first in Dublin and Cork before moving for a time to Bath to join the many successful artists working there at the height of its popularity as a spa resort. He had many wealthy clients including royalty and is said to have declined a Royal honour on account of his disability.

Item Ref. IW501

Size: framed, 159 x 142mm

Provenance: Private UK Collection