John Downman, A.R.A. (1750-1824)
Portrait of a Lady
Three-quarter length in profile, wearing a black hat with elaborate trimmings, seated in a landscape
Signed l.l.: J Downman/Oct(?) 1784, black chalk and watercolour, in a carved fruitwood frame
22.5 x 18.3 cm; 8 ½ x 6 ½ inches
Private collection, U.K., until 2019
Dowman started his artistic studies in Liverpool and from 1769 was with Benjamin West in London. He visited Italy from 1773-5 and once back in England he established a practise as a portrait painter in Cambridge. By 1779, he had returned to London where he built a reputation as one of the most fashionable portraitists of the day. He was patronised by the royal family as well as many other prominent patrons such as the Duchesses of Devonshire and Richmond. He worked rapidly and invented a technique of drawing in chalk and applying watercolour washes to the back of the paper which produced the very delicate result which distinguishes his oeuvre.