Richard Cosway

Elizabeth Courtenay, Lady Charles Somerset, d. 1815

About this artwork

This miniature is a typical example of the mature portraits painted by Cosway. Cosway exploited the luminous qualities of the ivory support, a material commonly used in miniatures for this reason, and also developed his own unique compositional and technical traits that made his portraits notably alluring and flattering. These included the enlargement of the eyes in proportion to the rest of the head and body. In addition, Cosway pioneered a bravura technique that contrasted delicate stipple painting in the face with more linear and expressive brushwork for the hair, body and sky. In 1788 Elizabeth Courtenay eloped with and secretly married Lord Charles Henry Somerset. It is very likely that this miniature was commissioned from the artist to mark the couple’s marriage.

Richard Cosway

Richard Cosway