The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Miss Crofton
  • Richard Cosway (1742 - 1821)
  • Miss Crofton
  • England
  • c. 1800
  • Miniature
  • Painted on ivory
  • Image size: 7.2 x 5.5 cm
    Frame size: 9.8 x 6.7 cm
  • Inscription: 'Miss Crofton unfinished by R. Cosway 172 / 173'
    Label: '30 / Miss Crofton'
    Label: '1711'
  • M88
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Richard Cosway became the most fashionable English miniature painter of the late eighteenth century, having developed a distinctive style of miniature painting. He has an unerring sense of style and chose attitudes for his sitters according to contemporary ideas of elegance and sensibility. His artistic hallmark became his brilliant way of using the surface of the ivory as part of the miniatures colour scheme, mainly for the fashionably pale skin of the sitters.

    In Cosway’s portrait of Miss Crofton this effect is pushed further than intended by the artist. As the comparison with other works in the Wallace Collection (M87 and 2007.2) demonstrates, this miniature has not reached the same level of finish. While the head of the sitter and part of the background above her head might already have reached the final stage, the woman’s upper body and dress have only been roughly sketched out. In its half finished state, the miniature gives a fascinating insight into his technique. A first outline in grey was used to determine the composition, before different brushstrokes in different colours. Cosway obviously did not work evenly across the surface but finished certain areas before he touched on the next part. Miss Crofton’s face features delicate browns and reds. Cosway was an assiduous and efficient portrait painter, recorded to have had up to twelve sittings in one day. The portrait of Miss Crofton fives us an impression of what a portrait miniature might have looked like after the first sitting.