John Smart Miniature Ring
A rare portrait miniature ring by the leading 18th century miniature painter, John Smart [circa 1741 -1811]. Smart is renowned for his delicacy of execution and exquisite colouring and examples of his work are in museums across the world. This portrait is of Philadelphia Austen [1730 -1792], elder sister of the Reverend George Austen and aunt of Jane Austen, renowned author. Philadelphia, a spirited girl, travelled to India without dowry in search of a husband at the age of twenty. She married the somewhat older Tysoe Saul Hancock, a surgeon in the East India Company ,with whom she had a daughter, Eliza. Philadelphia is buried in the churchyard of St. John-at-Hampstead, London. The miniature is signed on the left hand side JS and dated beneath the signature 1768. Deirdre Le Fay, in Jane Austen and Her Hancock Relatives [Review Of English Studies Volume 30 No 117 1979] describes a miniature painted by John Smart in 1768 of Philadelphia Austen, a slender, elegant woman with dark eyes and smoothly upswept dark hair, wearing a turquoise-blue dress and a pearl choker. Daphne Foskett in John Smart The Man and His Miniatures lists in Appendix A of Known Sitters : Austen, Miss Philadelphia [after Mrs T.S. Hancock, aunt of Jane Austen] miniature set in a ring.
The ring is size J [US 4 and 5/8], the miniature is set under crystal to a gold shank and the front panel measures 3/4 of an inch by 2/3 of an inch. A rare and exquisite portrait miniature by a leading 18th century miniaturist, executed when he was only in his twenties.
For similar portrait of Philadelphia Austen in possession of the Jane Austen Society, see last image below.
Portrait miniature of Philadelphia Austen in the possession of the Jane Austen Society.