This is a particularly engaging example of child portraiture, the genre in which Hone excelled. Born in Dublin in 1718, little is known of his training, though his early pastels suggest that he may have studied with Robert West, when he was still running a private academy, prior to it being taken over by the Dublin Society. Hone moved to England at an early age and worked primarily as a painter of miniatures. In 1742 he married an heiress, Mary Earl, at York Minister. Pasquin, clearly a biased witness, with something of a vendetta against the artist, gives a hostile account of Hone’s evident affinity with children, telling how he would lodge at the best in a town and having asked to dine with the family, would lavish praise on their children before offering to paint them: ‘the portmanteau was unpacked, the operations began; while the fond and partial parents hung in rapture over his shoulder….Thus he made his establishment secure, and gave general satisfaction, by offending truth and outraging taste; making the children as angels, the mother as a Venus, and the husband a well-fed Job, in a brown periwig’. Hone was appointed one of the directors of the Society of Incorporated Artists in 1766 but resigned two years later to be become a founding member of the Royal Academy. He exhibited his charming The Piping Boy – a portrait of his son Camillus – (National Gallery of Ireland) in the Academy’s first exhibition and sent a total of sixty-nine works to their annual shows. However, as is well known, Hone, sometimes a difficult man, fell out with his fellow academicians and had a long-standing feud with Sir Joshua Reynolds – proposing Gainsborough for the Presidency in 1774. Things culminated the following year in the controversy surrounding The Conjuror (National Gallery of Ireland) in which Hone caricatures Reynolds, satirising his supposed plagiarism by including prints of the old masters which, he suggests, the Academy’s President had re-used in his work. Particular offence was taken to a female figure interpreted as representing Angelica Kauffmann, with whom Reynolds was rumoured to have had an affair. Although this was painted out, the work was rejected for hanging by the Academy and Hone exhibited it privately, together with almost a hundred other of his works, in one of the very first one-man shows, in St Martin’s Lane. The only work that Hone did exhibit at the Academy that year was the famous Spartan Boy (private collection), perhaps his finest child portrait, which Walpole admired at the exhibition for its colouring and expression. As noted above, Hone is famously at his best at portraying children. Waterhouse in his Dictionary notes how the artist was inspired to paint his most original and sensitive works by his son Camillus while le Harivel writes: ‘his affinity for children often captures the transience of childhood, [and is] surpassed only by Gainsborough’. Here, the young boy sits on a chair, one arm resting on its top as if he has been posed slightly against his will. This apparent reticence is, however, belied by his confident and expressive engagement directly with the painter whom he faces, and so with the viewer. It is a work of great charm, freshness and immediacy. Hone perfectly captures a characteristic mixture of shyness and mischief in the young boy’s face and, in this, it can be directly compared with a further work by the artist showing a child of a similar age, in rather similar costume (private collection, formerly with Agnews). Both paintings share the ‘slightly excessive brightness of expression (effected by the highlights in the eyes)’ which characterises Hone’s work. Again the costume and handling of paint is close to The Sketching Boy (National Gallery of Ireland), a portrait of another son Horace, who was himself to become an eminent miniaturist. The intimacy of the present work would suggest that it is of a family member, but this must await further confirmation.
About the Seller
1stdibs seller since 2016
Typical response time: <1 hr
Located in London, GB
LAPADA - The Association of Arts & Antiques Dealers
International Confederation of Art and Antique Dealers' Associations
The British Antique Dealers' Association
You may also contact the seller by phone
More From This Seller
Francis CotesPortrait of Martha Seymer as Modesty
$11,953 Sale Price
Portrait of Martha Seymer as Modesty
Portrait of Martha Seymer as Modesty Oil painting on canvas 30 x 25 inches (76 x 64cm) Contained in its original carved and gilded Georgian swept frame Provenance: By family dec...
Joseph van AkenA sporting Conversation Piece
Price Upon Request
A sporting Conversation Piece
Joseph van Aken
Joseph van Aken (1699-1749) A sporting Conversation Piece: two gentlemen with their guns and dogs rest at the edge of a wood; a third approaches them whilst a fourth, gun in hand, w...
Portrait of a young girl
Bartholomew Dandridge (1691-1755) Three-quarter length portrait of a girl, perhaps the hon. Anne, eldest daughter of Sir Jacob de Bouverie, 1st Viscount Folkestone. Oil painting on...
A portrait of Nathaniel Chauncey (1717-1790), s...
Half-length portrait of Nathaniel Chauncey, 1717-1790, sitting at a small table on which rest a leather-bound book, two sheets of drawings and a “black basalt-ware” figure of the Mus...
You May Also Like
David with the Head of Goliath
Provenance: Private Collection, Santa Fe, NM The figure of David was, as is well known, particularly popular in the city of Florence during the Renaissance period. Numerous paint...
Giovanni Battista LangettiJob Cursed by His Wife
Price Upon Request
Job Cursed by His Wife
Giovanni Battista Langetti
Provenance: Alfred (1883-1961) and Hermine Stiassni (1889-1962), Brno, Czech Republic, by 1925; thence London, 1938-1940; thence Los Angeles, 1940-1962; thence by descent to: ...
UnknownSaint Elizabeth of Thuringia Hungary with the Beggar - Old Master oil painting, c.1700's
Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia Hungary with the B...
Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia Hungarian/ German School, circa 1700 oil painting on canvas, framed canvas size: 112cm x 82cm Provenance: private European collection Fine Old Master ...
Little girl with a nassa
bibliography: L. Manzi, Vincenzo Irolli, EditriceRinascita artistico, Napoli 1955, p. 57
Portrait of the Chinese craftsman and dwarf Tjo...
Portrait painting by Sally Philipsen 1879 - 1936 Portrait of the Chinese craftsman and dwarf Tjong Fu’hk Wong Waih. Signed and dated Sally Philipsen 1904. Oil on canvas. Size; 130 x ...
French Old Master1700's Fragment Canvas St. Martin of Tours Giving his Coat to a Beggar, Oil , c. 1700's
1700's Fragment Canvas St. Martin of Tours Givi...
French Old Master
St. Martin of Tours French School, circa 1700 oil painting on canvas fragment unstretched and unframed canvas measures: 31 x 37 inches Stunning French Old Master oil painting on ca...
Andrea Schiavone (1522-1563)Circle of Andrea Schiavone (1522-1563) Apollo and Cupid, Circa 1560
Circle of Andrea Schiavone (1522-1563) Apollo a...
Andrea Schiavone (1522-1563)
Circle of Andrea Schiavone (1522-1563) Named originally Andrea Meldolla, he was called Schiavone (the ‘Slavonian’) because he came from Zara on the Dalmatian coast. He spent most of...
KRATZ Benjamin (1829-1869)Painting 19th Century Genre Scene Portraits Cards Game Aristocracy 18th Century, circa 1850
Painting 19th Century Genre Scene Portraits Car...
KRATZ Benjamin (1829-1869)
KRATZ Benjamin (1829-1869) Cards Game in 18th century period Oil on canvas signed low left Old original frame gilded with leaves Dim canvas : 62 X 72 cm Dim frame : 88 X 98 cm Certi...