Small Clues Can Make Up The Big Picture

July 22 2013, 4:56pm

This Portrait of a Lady and Her Dog is a recent acquisition, and a provides a good example of how a painting may be analyzed based on individual features and can serve as a historical record. Carlton Hobbs LLC One important clue to this work is the steel-mounted Wedgwood buckle on the belt of the sitter. The subject of the buckle is “Domestic Employment,” depicting two children with a spinner carrying a distaff, a design created by Lady Elizabeth Templetown. Lady Templetown was an aristocratic amateur artist, who first sent her “cut-outs” to Josiah Wedgwood in 1783. Her talents were of such a high order that she was asked to send him more designs and Wedgwood himself praised her thusly in his 1787 “Catalog of cameos, intaglios, medals, bas-reliefs, busts and small statues…”: “I have lately been enabled to enrich [bas-reliefs] with some charming groupes, which lady Diana Beauclerc and lady Templetown, whose exquisite taste is universally acknowledged, have honoured me with the liberty of copying from their designs.” Detail of the Steel-Mounted Wedgwood Buckle A larger version of this medallion, circa 1787, is in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums, and can be seen in Figure 1. Figure 1 Although Wedgwood pottery was created in England, it was widely exported and enjoyed by foreign consumers. It is therefore possible that the painting is of another country of origin. Two further indicators as to its provenance may be the breed of dog, as well as the style of dress worn by the sitter, particularly her shoes. Detail of dog Detail of shoe We will be sure to update on the progress of our research, and would love to hear your thoughts on the origin of the painting!