A Gentleman with a Gentle Gaze wonderfully captured in a Portrait by Adam Buck in 1821


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THE STORY - It really was the softness of that gaze and the gentleness in the face of this Unknown gentleman that caught my attention and stole my heart. The small bust length portrait is painted by the Irish Artist Adam Buck and is executed in both watercolour and pencil and carries his signature and the date of 1821 at the bottom. I adore the beautiful peach skin tones of the face with the warmth of pink on the cheeks and his mouth small and firmly closed but with a burst of pink colour. And all these soft pink tones are beautifully in contrast to the silver of his spectacles and the salt and pepper grey of his hair. And I love the way his spectacles have been painted for me they convey that unlike everything else in the portrait the man the cotton of the shirt the wool of the jacket that they are not natural they are man-made that are hard and shiny, I almost feel like I could lift them from his face. This portrait was painted at the very end of the Regency Period when George IV had been crowned King from Prince Regent in 1820 and he is clearly a man of wealth from his dress and possibly to those glasses. And indeed it is no surprise that this fine portrait was painted by Adam Buck.

ADAM BUCK - Adam Buck was born in Cork in Ireland in 1859 the son of a silversmith where he became an accomplished miniaturist. In 1795 he moved to London where he became a success both socially and artistically, carrying favour with both The Prince of Wales and The Duke of York. Indeed he started to produce small watercolours of the aristocracy and the fashionable as well as his miniatures. In 1803 he painted his first portrait of Mary Anne Clark the Mistress of the Duke of York dressed like the fashion of the time in a dress of light muslin, and he painted her again in 1809, the year the scandal engulfed the country as now his ex mistress of 4 years The Duke of York had refused to pay her the annuity he promised, in retaliation she testified to Parliament to taking payments from those seeking Commissions to the Army which the Duke was Commander in Chief Of. Indeed as I write this piece I do have a snuff box in my shop which was produced during this period. Buck I believe painted her portrait twice more but this was the beginning of the waning of his career as he had become associated with Mary Anne Clark and the Moralists did not approve and indeed I read that Doctors has become somewhat annoyed with him as so many young women in wanting to capture beauty of the Scantily Clad Mary Anne Clark. He died suddenly in 1833 leaving a wife and three children. He was also a passionate lover of the Antique especially from Greece and Rome which inspired a life long project recording images of Greek Vases.

And to the Reverse of the frame which is much later that the portrait its previous owner has pasted a typed biog of Buck as well as an absolutely charming piece from Country Life 1957 about Adam Buck and the portraits he painted of Mrs Sarah George. The frame is made from wood and has been painted black.

DATE - 1821

CONDITION - The portrait is in very good condition the colours as still strong and bright. There is a small light foxing mark just above the far side of his forehead which can best be seen in the fourth photo. The frame and mount as I have mentioned are of a later date possibly mid 1900s. There is a small black mark on the mount on the same side as the portrait which can best be seen in the second photo below which is a very light water mark stain. The frame is strong but I would say the wire of hanging it has some age to it and looks it is unraveling slightly so I would check or replace before hanging.

DIMENSIONS (Approx) - Framed - Height 10&1/8" / 25.5cm, Width 9&1/8" / 23cm, Depth 7/8" / 2.25cm. Image Size - Height 4&7/8" / 12.5cm, Width 3&7/8" / 10cm

So there is my Gentleman with the gentle thoughtful gaze. And strangely I quite like the fact that he is unidentified as I think it makes me see more of the person rather than the name of perhaps an Aristocratic Family he belonged to. And although the frame is much later than the portrait I do very much like the way it has been framed as it draws my eye into the portrait. Buck may not of been at the height of his popularity when he painted this portrait but his name was one that was known and his portraits and paintings were still very much admired.

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