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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

English, 1763 - 1837
Portrait of a Woman
c. 1785
Watercolor on ivory, rose gold, hair, embossed metallic foil, and glass

3 x 2 ½ inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Rienzi Collection, bequest of Caroline A. Ross

Arts of Europe

Portrait miniaturist Andrew Plimer began his training as a clockmaker, but as a youth he and his older brother, Nathaniel, ran away and joined a troupe of gypsies. About 1781, the brothers both entered domestic service in London, and Andrew became a manservant to Richard Cosway. A famous miniaturist, Cosway was generous in encouraging Andrew. Cosway allowed the young man to act as his studio assistant, taught him the basics of miniature portraiture, and possibly even paid for drawing lessons. In this beautiful example, Plimer is looking to Cosway´s distinctive style: enormous, deep eyes and tousled hair, blue sky, and floating clouds suggesting his lovely subject sits amid limitless space.