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George Engleheart

George Engleheart

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George Engleheart was one of the greatest English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 painters of portrait miniatures, and a contemporary of Richard Cosway
Richard Cosway
Richard Cosway was a leading English portrait painter—more accurately a miniaturist—of the Regency era. He was a contemporary of John Smart, George Engleheart, William Wood, and Richard Crosse...

, John Smart
John Smart
John Smart , was an English painters of portrait miniatures. He was a contemporary of Richard Cosway, George Engleheart, William Wood and Richard Crosse.-Biography:He was born in Norfolk, but not much is known of his early life...

, William Wood, and Richard Crosse
Richard Crosse
Richard Crosse was a leading English painter of portrait miniatures. He was a contemporary of John Smart, George Engleheart, Richard Cosway and William Wood.-Family and home:...


Family and home

Engleheart is generally thought to have been born in Kew
Kew is a place in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in South West London. Kew is best known for being the location of the Royal Botanic Gardens, now a World Heritage Site, which includes Kew Palace...

, Surrey, on 26 October 1750.
His father was Francis Englehart (died 1773), a German plaster modeller who emigrated to England as a child; his mother was Anne Dawney. He had seven brothers. The family name was changed to Engleheart after his father died.

He married his first wife, Elizabeth Brown, in 1776; and the couple set up house in Prince’s Street, Hanover Square
Hanover Square, London
Hanover Square, London, is a square in Mayfair, London W1, England, situated to the south west of Oxford Circus, the major junction where Oxford Street meets Regent Street....

, London. Elizabeth died in April 1779, aged only 26. Engleheart moved to 4 Hertford Street in Mayfair
Mayfair is an area of central London, within the City of Westminster.-History:Mayfair is named after the annual fortnight-long May Fair that took place on the site that is Shepherd Market today...

, London. He married his second wife, Ursula Sarah Browne in 1785; and the couple had four children: George, Nathaniel, Harry and Emma.

In 1813, Engleheart retired full time to his country house in Bedfont, near Hounslow in Middlesex. He had built the house on land he purchased in 1783, and the interiors are said to have been decorated in the fashionable neo-classical style of Robert Adam
Robert Adam
Robert Adam was a Scottish neoclassical architect, interior designer and furniture designer. He was the son of William Adam , Scotland's foremost architect of the time, and trained under him...

. His second wife, Ursula, died in 1817, and Engleheart soon after gave up the house and went to live with his son Nathaniel in Blackheath
Blackheath, London
Blackheath is a district of South London, England. It is named from the large open public grassland which separates it from Greenwich to the north and Lewisham to the west...

, then a village to the southeast of London.

Engleheart died in Blackheath on 21 March 1829, and was buried at St. Anne's Church, Kew
St. Anne's Church, Kew
St Anne's Church, Kew is the parish church of Kew, London, situated on Kew Green.-History:Originally built in 1714, on land given by Queen Anne as a church within the parish of Kingston, St. Anne's Church has been extended several times since, as the settlement of Kew grew with royal patronage. In...


His nephew, John Cox Dillman Engleheart
John Cox Dillman Engleheart
John Cox Dillman Engleheart was a miniature painter, the nephew of the miniature painter George Engleheart.He entered his uncle's studio when he was but fourteen years of age. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1801, and sent in altogether 157 works...

, was also an accomplished portrait miniaturist, painting during the Regency era.

Professional career

Engleheart entered the newly formed Royal Academy Schools
Royal Academy
The Royal Academy of Arts is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly, London. The Royal Academy of Arts has a unique position in being an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and...

 on 3 November 1769. He was a pupil of George Barret, R.A., and of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Engleheart started on his own account in 1773, and worked mainly in London for the whole of his career. He regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1773 to 1822.
He kept a detailed fee book from 1775 to 1813, which included detailed sketches of his miniatures. The book remains in the possession of his family to this day.
Engleheart was a prolific artist: during the period of 39 years covered by the fee book, no less than 4,853 miniatures are recorded as having been executed by him.

His fees ranged from 3 guineas in 1775, up to 25 guineas by 1811. His professional income for many years exceeded £1,200 per annum.

Engleheart mainly painted watercolour on ivory, and his work can be categorised into three distinct periods.

His initial paintings were small in size. It was common for artists of the period circa 1775 to paint on small ivories of approximately 1½ to 2 inches in height. Miniaturists at this time were still learning to exploit the full potential of ivory, and were struggling to find ways of adhering the watercolour to its greasy surface. Hence, they found it difficult to paint large areas of ivory, and tended to keep the miniatures small. It was still fashionable for ladies to wear portrait miniatures on bracelets around their wrists, and small miniatures helped facilitate this.
Engleheart's portraits of this era are sometimes signed ‘G.E.’ The flesh tones are coloured by reddish tints over a pale ground, with the facial features accentuated using a bluish-grey tone.

During the period circa 1780–1795, Engleheart developed his very distinctive style, with his draughtsmanship and use of colour becoming consistent and high quality. He still sometimes paints small sized miniatures, but he more frequently paints on ivories of around 2½ inches in height. His works are easily recognisable: he often portrays his sitters with deep eyes under strong eyebrows, together with a slightly lengthened nose, and the flesh colour of the face is painted using a brownish yellow tone. The corners of the mouth are drawn with diagonal grey strokes. Engleheart imbues his sitters with a sense of gentleness, elegance and serenity; even his military officers look more at home in the drawing room
Drawing room
A drawing room is a room in a house where visitors may be entertained. The name is derived from the sixteenth-century terms "withdrawing room" and "withdrawing chamber", which remained in use through the seventeenth century, and made its first written appearance in 1642...

 than the battlefield. He often used opaque white to pick out the details of the pale coloured dresses worn by his female subjects, and their hair is often worn high and/or powdered, as was the fashion of the time. The men wear their hair powdered ‘en queue’, i.e. powdered wig
A wig is a head of hair made from horsehair, human hair, wool, feathers, yak hair, buffalo hair, or synthetic materials which is worn on the head for fashion or various other aesthetic and stylistic reasons, including cultural and religious observance. The word wig is short for periwig and first...

s worn over long hair pulled back into a ponytail which was tied with a black ribbon. Engleheart did not always sign his work during this period, but towards the end of this phase he began signing with a cursive ‘E’ placed in the bottom corner of the obverse, and he continued with this style of signature for quite a number of years. In addition, he also started to sign and date his portraits in full on their reverse.

The third and final period of Engleheart’s career is circa 1795–1813. His painting style does not really change from that developed in the preceding years, but his ivories are now large, measuring around 3 to 3½ inches in height. The clothes of his sitters are much simpler, following the simple style which came into fashion in France from 1789 onwards, as a result of the Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. Powdered hair was further helped out of fashion in Britain in 1795, when the British government imposed a tax
Duty on Hair Powder Act 1795
Duty on Hair Powder Act 1795 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain levying a tax on hair powder. It was repealed in 1869....

 of 1 guinea per annum on those individuals wishing to wear hair powder or powdered wigs; the tax being introduced to part finance the war with France (it was during the French Revolutionary Wars
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

). The fashions of this era are referred to as the Regency style. Men tended to dress like country squires
The English word squire is a shortened version of the word Esquire, from the Old French , itself derived from the Late Latin , in medieval or Old English a scutifer. The Classical Latin equivalent was , "arms bearer"...

: often wearing a plain navy blue or brown coat, with a white high-collared shirt and white cravat
The cravat is a neckband, the forerunner of the modern tailored necktie and bow tie, originating from 17th-century Croatia.From the end of the 16th century, the term band applied to any long-strip neckcloth that was not a ruff...

; their hair was brushed forward (imitating the style worn by the ancient Romans) and sometimes markedly pushed up vertically off the forehead. Women dressed in the Grecian style, wearing empire line dresses
Empire silhouette
An Empire silhouette is created by a woman wearing a high-waisted dress, gathered near or just under the bust with a long, loose skirt, which skims the body. The outline is especially flattering to pear shapes wishing to disguise the stomach area or emphasise the bust. The shape of the dress also...

 in white muslin
Muslin |sewing patterns]], such as for clothing, curtains, or upholstery. Because air moves easily through muslin, muslin clothing is suitable for hot, dry climates.- Etymology and history :...

 or coloured silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

 or satin
Satin is a weave that typically has a glossy surface and a dull back. It is a warp-dominated weaving technique that forms a minimum number of interlacings in a fabric. If a fabric is formed with a satin weave using filament fibres such as silk, nylon, or polyester, the corresponding fabric is...

; their hair is worn up, with longer curls falling either side of the face as the period progressed. During this time, Engleheart tutored two of his relatives, John Cox Dillman Engleheart
John Cox Dillman Engleheart
John Cox Dillman Engleheart was a miniature painter, the nephew of the miniature painter George Engleheart.He entered his uncle's studio when he was but fourteen years of age. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1801, and sent in altogether 157 works...

 and Thomas Richmond, in how to paint miniatures.
As this final phase of his career progressed, Engleheart reverted to signing his work with a ‘G.E.’, in either cursive form or block capitals.

Engleheart painted George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

 twenty-five times, and had a very extensive circle of patrons, comprising nearly all the important persons connected with the court. He made careful copies in miniature of many of the famous paintings executed by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and in some cases these constitute the only information we possess respecting portraits by Sir Joshua that are now missing. His fee-book, colours, appliances and a large collection of his miniatures still remain in the possession of his descendants.

Circle of friends

His friends included such notables as George Romney
George Romney (painter)
George Romney was an English portrait painter. He was the most fashionable artist of his day, painting many leading society figures - including his artistic muse, Emma Hamilton, mistress of Lord Nelson....

 the artist; William Blake
William Blake
William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age...

 the poet, artist and visionary; Jeremiah Meyer, a fellow portrait miniaturist; and William Hayley
William Hayley
William Hayley was an English writer, best known as the friend and biographer of William Cowper.-Biography:...

the poet.

External links