1 of 9 portraits of Samuel Richardson
by Joseph Highmore
oil on canvas, circa 1747
30 1/8 in. x 25 in. (764 mm x 635 mm)
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Joseph Highmore's portrait of the novelist and publisher Samuel Richardson is a well-documented example of personal symbolism in a portrait. It was painted for the author's admirer, Lady Dorothy Bradshaigh, who proposed this well-developed composition: 'I would choose to have your drawn in your study, a table or desk by you, with pen, ink and paper; one letter just sealed, which I shall fancy is to me.' She left artist and sitter to decide the size and Richardson added his own tribute to Lady Bradshaigh and her husband by having a copy of a portrait of them included over the fireplace.