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George Engleheart, 1753–1829, British
A Lady of the Blunt Family
ca. 1795
Watercolor and gouache on ivory
Image: 3 1/2 x 2 7/8 inches (8.9 x 7.3 cm) and Frame: 4 3/8 x 3 1/8 x 5/8 inches (11.1 x 7.9 x 1.6 cm)

Inscribed in artist's hand in brown watercolor lower right: "E"; inscribed on paper backing in pen and black ink: "Miss Blunt | Property of | Mrs. H. Grafton | Edward Fletcher"

Signed in brown watercolor lower right: "E"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors-Miniatures
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: As a COVID-19 precaution, the Study Room is closed until further notice.
Curatorial Comment:
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The portrait miniature is associated particularly with the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but this distinctive form of drawing retained its appeal throughout the eighteenth century and indeed increased in popularity as a middle-class clientele for portraits evolved. Although portrait miniatures were exhibited publicly later in the century (at the Royal Academy they were prominently displayed around the fireplace in the Great Room), they were generally, though not invariably, intended for private rather than public use. Usually commissioned to commemorate births, marriages, friendships, love affairs, or dynastic relationships—though sometimes made as copies of large-scale portraits—these tiny delicate likenesses were often housed in specially crafted cases made of precious materials and either worn as jewelry or stored in cabinets with other images of loved ones. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concept of “natural” and close family relationships became increasingly influential toward the end of the century, this most private form of portraiture, like the family conversation piece, gained in popularity. Because of the inherently personal and private nature of miniatures, the identities of sitters have often been lost over the centuries, particularly when the objects have left the original owners and entered museum collections; this sense of loss adds a particular resonance and poignancy to these commemorative images. The exact identity of the sitter of this exquisite miniature is uncertain, but the inscription records that it represents a “Miss Blunt.” According to his fee books, George Engleheart painted fifteen miniatures of members of the family of Sir Charles William Blunt between 1785 and 1812; on the basis of style and costume, the miniature can be dated to circa 1795–1800, and it most likely depicts Blunt’s third daughter, Elizabeth (d. 1839), who married her second cousin Sir Charles Burrell Blunt in 1801 and is recorded in Engleheart’s fee book as having sat for the artist in 1796 and 1800.
--Gillian Forrester,2007-01
Exhibition History:
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English Portrait Drawings & Miniatures (Yale Center for British Art, 1979-12-05 - 1980-02-17)

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05)

Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 2007-10-20 - 2008-01-27)

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John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy, a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 271, no. 62, pl. 62, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

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