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Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Richard Cosway (1742-1821), Miniature painter

‘Dicky Cosway has published a great many likenesses of his own dear self, but whether to commemorate the beauties of his person, or to give posterity the eternal similitude of so amiable a man, it is difficult to say’ (Morning Post, 16 June 1788).

Self Portraits
c.1770-75
Painting, half-length oval in Van Dyck dress with a black plumed velvet hat. Private collection (by descent from the artist).

c.1770
Painting, three-quarter length standing, wearing Rubensian dress. Attingham Park (illus. Face to Face, Liverpool, 1994, p 73).

Miniature, bust length in profile, arms folded. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (62.49; G. Reynolds, European Miniatures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996, pl.46).

c.1780
Drawing, half length. Fondazione Cosway, Lodi (illus. T. Gipponi ed., Maria e Ricardo Cosway, Turin, 1998, p 55).

1780-85
Painting, half length. Fondazione Cosway, Lodi (illus. T. Gipponi ed., Maria e Ricardo Cosway, Turin, 1998, p 95).

1784
Etching, seated in a garden in Rubensian dress, with his wife and a servant (illus. S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995, pl.35; Face to Face, Liverpool, 1994, p 74).

c.1785
Drawing, seated in a garden in Rubensian dress, with his wife. Fondazione Cosway, Lodi (illus. S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995, pl.33; T. Gipponi ed., Maria e Ricardo Cosway, Turin, 1998, f.p.36). Inspired by the Rubens self portrait with his first wife in Munich.

Drawing, half length in Rubensian dress with black plumed hat. Fondazione Cosway, Lodi (illus. T. Gipponi ed., Maria e Ricardo Cosway, Turin, 1998, f.p.36).

c.1785-90
Miniature, bust length in Elizabethan dress. National Gallery of Ireland (3024; illus. S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995 pl.63; P. Caffrey, Treasures to Hold, Irish and English Miniatures 1650-1850 from the National Gallery of Ireland Collection, 2000, p 76).

Drawing, lying reading beneath a tree, wearing a broad-brimmed hat. Christie’s, 17 November 1981, lot 76.

1786
Drawing, whole-length seated, wrapped in a cloak, wearing a broad brimmed plumed hat, the Vita di Rubens at his side. Engraved M. Bova [Bovi] 1786 and lettered Rdus Cosway Armiger R.A. Primarius Pictor Serenissimi Walliae Principis (illus. S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995, pl.39; T. Gipponi ed., Maria e Ricardo Cosway, Turin, 1998, p 55).

c.1788
Drawing, half length in ‘Spanish’ seventeenth-century dress. Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif. (27.141; illus. British Portrait Drawings, Huntington, 1982, no.15). Engraved J. Clarke 1788; E. Scriven 1832; W. C. Edwards 1833.

1789
Drawing, whole length in Rubensian costume, with his wife. Engraved R. Thew 1789, the first state entitled Abelard and Eloisa (illus. T. Gipponi ed., Maria e Ricardo Cosway, Turin, 1998, front.).

c.1789
Drawing, whole length standing in Rubensian costume, contemplating busts of Michelangelo and Rubens. Fondazione Cosway, Lodi (illus. S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995, pl.40; T. Gipponi ed., Maria e Ricardo Cosway, Turin, 1998, f.p.60).

c.1790
Drawing, bust length. Private collection, USA (S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995, pl.73 as c.1800; T. Gipponi ed., Maria e Ricardo Cosway, Turin, 1998, p 47 as c.1790).

Drawing, whole length, in Rubensian dress with a plumed hat, leaning on a pedestal bearing a bust of Rubens. Fondazione Cosway, Lodi (illus. T. Gipponi ed., Maria e Ricardo Cosway, Turin, 1998, f.p.192).

Drawing, see NPG 304 and NPG 1678.

1800
Etching, whole length seated wearing a plumed hat, with his wife, ‘Coppia in lettura’ (illus. T. Gipponi ed., Maria e Ricardo Cosway, Turin, 1998, p 183).

1804-05
Miniature, bust length wearing black seventeenth-century dress. Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, from the Whitehead sale, Christie’s, 5 August 1915, lot 650 (G. C. Williamson, Catalogue of the Collection of Miniatures, the property of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1906, II, no.269, pl.LXXXVII). Compares quite closely with the c.1805-10 type below.

c.1805
Drawing, at an easel. British Museum (1945.2.8.191/307), from a sketchbook (see S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995, no.188).

Drawing, half length between two Masonic columns, pointing to the Star of David. Worcester Art Museum, Mass.(1921.57; illus. G. C. Williamson, Richard Cosway, 1905, front.) ‘In later life Cosway was a practising magician and faith healer, who claimed to have prophetic powers’ (S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995, p 127).

c.1805-10
Miniature, bust length with a white wig. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (PD.203.1961). A version sold Phillips, 16 July 1996, lot 178.

1806
Drawing as Esau standing between the columns of the Temple of Jerusalem. Uffizi, Florence, presented by the artist’s widow 1824 (illus. Firenze e l’Inghilterra, Florence, 1971, no.52).

By other artists
1772
Painting by Johann Zoffany, The Academicians of the Royal Academy, see NPG 1437 for a copy.

c.1780-85
Drawing by Paul Sandby, profile head almost obscured by a slouch hat, one of the series of heads drawn at print sales. Royal Collection (A. P. Oppé, The Drawings of Paul and Thomas Sandby in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle, 1947, no.417/3). Engraved anon., Sketches taken at Print Sales.

1781
Anon. etching, A Smuggling Machine, or, a Convenient Cos/au/way for a Man in Miniature, showing Cosway’s profile emerging from his wife’s hoops (M. D. George, British Museum, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, V, 6102; illus. J. T. Smith, Nollekens and his Times, ed. W. Whitten, 1920, II, f.p.329).

c.1790
Unattributed medal (illus. S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995, p 17; L. Brown, A Catalogue of British Historical Medals 1760-1960: The Accession of George III to the Death of William IV, 1980, no.341).

c.1790?
Drawing by Elias Martin. Nationalmuseum, Stockholm (102/1884). Exhibited Elias Martin, London 1963 (42). Martin was in London 1768-80 and 1788-91.

1793
Drawing by George Dance, half length, dated 6 April 1793. Royal Academy. Engraved W. Daniell 1811; a Daniell tracing in the Yale Center for British Art (B1977.14.4193).

1795
Painting by Henry Singleton, President and Members of the Royal Academy.
A portrait of Cosway by Singleton, exhibited RA 1797 (275), was probably connected with this larger group (cf. Thomas Sandby and Johann Zoffany).

1821
Monument by Richard Westmacott jr. with profile medallion surrounded by the figures of Art, Taste and Genius. St Mary’s, Marylebone (illus. M. Busco, Sir Richard Westmacott, 1994, p 155). Engraved C. Picart.

1909
Sculpture by Ernest Gillick, Victoria and Albert Museum (south front).

Doubtful Portraits
Painting by William Beechey, engraved H. Meyer after a drawing by W. Evans; ‘self-portraits’ in the Yale Center for British Art (B1977.14.4976); sold Christie’s, 14 November 1991, lot 90, and a miniature, sold Christie’s, 12 July 1988, lot 192 (illus. G. C. Williamson, Richard Cosway, 1905, f.p.66).



This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.