William Spence II

Nathaniel Bermingham attrib.


Shown in profile, William Spence is richly dressed in a chestnut brown coat, blue-grey and red striped waistcoat and frilled chemise. His powdered wig has a neatly rolled curl and a Ramillies plait that is doubled up and tied with a black ribbon bow.

According to an inscription on the backing board William Spence was born in 1724; he married Elizabeth Childe and with her had three children. He died in 1783 aged 59; records show that he was buried at Deadman’s Place in Southwark, London. Used by an adjoining non-Conformist chapel, Deadman’s Place earned its colourful name from the great number of plague victims buried there during the seventeenth century.

Drawn in pastel during the 1770s, the portrait is attributed to Nathaniel Bermingham (?1712-1779). He was born in Dublin and later moved to London to work as a portrait and cut-paper artist. He offered his work for sale in a print shop owned by Laetitia Pilkington who colourfully described Bermingham as “a most ugly, squinting, mean-looking fellow”.

The portrait is in good condition and resides in the original giltwood frame with an inner beaded border. The frame has been re-gilded at some point but is otherwise in good condition.

Item Ref. 6817

Size: framed, 185 x 160mm (7¼ x 6¼")