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Elizabeth Bull

(1749-1809), Printseller

Sitter associated with 2 portraits

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Elizabeth Bull, by James Watson, printed for  Carington Bowles, printed for  Robert Sayer, after  Robert Edge Pine - NPG D32374

Elizabeth Bull

by James Watson, printed for Carington Bowles, printed for Robert Sayer, after Robert Edge Pine
mezzotint, late 18th century
NPG D32374

Elizabeth Bull, by James Watson, after  Robert Edge Pine - NPG D885

Elizabeth Bull

by James Watson, after Robert Edge Pine
mezzotint, late 18th century
NPG D885

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Nigel Tattersfield

05 January 2019, 14:53

I have concerns that this portrait is actually of Elizabeth Bull (1749-1809) of Northcote on the Isle of Wight, one of the daughters of Richard Bull MP, best known as a print collector and extra-illustrator of volumes in his library. Historically there appears to have been confusion over this portrait and another engraved by Watson after Joshua Reynolds which appears in the Mark Masterman Sykes' Sotheby's Catalogue of 1824, lot 659, described as being a portrait of Elizabeth Bull, print seller. My feeling is that both portraits are of Elizabeth, daughter of Richard Bull, and that near-contemporary attributions to Elizabeth the print seller are in error. Elizabeth Bull the print seller was the daughter of George Foster, print seller at the White Horse, Ludgate Hill. In 1753 she married Fenwick Bull, who had taken over her father's shop. So Elizabeth Bull (nee Foster) must have been born about 1730. Fenwick Bull left for America about 1765, leaving his wife in possession of the shop, where she successfully traded on her own for twenty years before taking John Jeffreys into partnership. In 1794 she either retired from business or died, leaving the shop to Jeffreys.

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