From the E. Grosvenor Paine Collection
A fine quality and broodingly atmospheric watercolour miniature of a young woman wearing a white décolleté dress, her dark hair curled, on a sky blue ground. The painting is set to its original gold ring, circa 1780. By the hand of the miniature portrait artist Charles Robertson. This Irish portrait miniaturist [1760 – 1821] was a gifted artist from an early age. A jeweller’s son, born in Dublin, he worked in London from 1785-1792 and exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1790-1810. The sitter is possibly Emily Fitzgerald, Duchess of Leinster. This ring was purchased from the E. Grosvenor Paine Collection in the early 1980’s and has been with its current owner ever since. E. Grosvenor Paine was a colourful and flamboyant figure in the art world in both the US and London. The vendor of this ring shared this story with me : ‘I knew Ed Paine for many years as I started attending the Manhattan shows in my teens. He was a courtly man who appeared at openings in an opera cape and silver topped cane. Primrose Plantation was his ancestral home and he supposedly was a direct descendant of Thomas Paine. He once told me that he had bought a Holbein or Hillard in a Washington antique shop for $500. He sold it for $50,000 in a New York auction and sent the dealer he bought it from $25,000 minus the $500’. E. Grosvenor Paine was murdered in New Orleans in the mid-1990’s, possibly for the rest of his comprehensive miniature collection which never surfaced posthumously. Truth is often stranger than fiction. The ring is size S [US 9 and 1/8] and the head of the ring measures one inch by 3/4 of an inch. A technically superior and almost photo-realistic miniature, immaculate.
My thanks to Claudia at Ellison Fine Art for identifying the artist for me, I bow to your superior knowledge.