A Face I could Neither Forget Nor Resit Wonderful Victorian Portrait Painting of a Young Woman and her Ringlets


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THE STORY - Anyone who knows my shop will know I have a deep love of portrait paintings, especially those from the Georgian and Victorian eras and I am constantly looking out for them in Auction Catalogues and at Fairs and in Antique Shops, but their faces must speak to me and the face of this charming young lady did not just speak to me, it shouted at me. And the reason for that was not because she was classically beautiful for she does not possess high chiseled cheek bones, a small pert nose and deep red rose bud lips which one comes to associate with that term, but because she is real, her nose is long, her eyebrows are heavy, her lips are small, but she is soft, she is informal in her pose as she looks directly at you with those large brown eyes, there is for me a sense of unconformity married with much softness both in the sitter and to the execution of the portrait which is not what I would come to expect from a Victorian portrait. The portrait from those wonderful ringlets I imagine would date to circa 1850 and is painted with watercolour on what looks like paper. It sits within an oval verre églomisé mount which in turn sits in a square gilt painted wooden frame which has an easel stand to the back. The portrait is neither signed nor dated, although it maybe that it was but they are now lost behind the mount, but I really do feel the portrait is very well executed, with all the detail being given to that wonderful face, framed by those ringlets hanging down and I love the little white dots at the centre of each eye which helps give them so much life. Then from her neck downwards the painting is minimal just suggesting the soft drape of her blouse and blue sofa she is seated on. It really is all about that face.

AGE - Circa 1850

CONDITION - The portrait is in very good condition, although undoubtedly the paper has darkened with age, the detail and colours in the working of her face are still strong. There is a small light white mark in her blouse which can be seen in the third photo. The verre églomisé mount wonderfully has no scratches to it, although I think there is a small scratch to the glass at the bottom of the portrait. I am uncertain whether the frame is the original one, although I do think the mount is, the gilt on the wooden frame is very worn. The back of the frame is solid although there is tearing to the old paper tape. The easel stand attached to the back still works, but the ribbon restricting how far it can be pulled out is broken. There is evidence that this portrait has been hung so I am going to leave it to its new owner to decide how they choose to display the painting, but if using the easel stand I would recommend the ribbon to be replaced.

DIMENSIONS (Approx) - Framed - Height 12&1/4" / 31.5cm, Width 10&1/2" / 27cm, Depth 3/4" / 2cm. Image Size - Height 8&1/2" 22cm, Width 6&3/4" / 17cm.

I really hoped she loved her portrait when it was finished and that she could see how beautiful it is, how beautiful she is. And I do wonder if it was painted as a gift for a potential Suitor, there is something I find very romantic about it and that includes the way it is framed as I can imagine it set on a table in a large Victorian Sitting Room, or the dressing table in a bedroom. I love her softness, her wide-set open eyes and that long nose. And I have to say she wears that hairstyle admirably with those soft ringlets hanging down the the bun loose on her head. But most of all I love her realness!

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