Richard Cosway, the most fashionable English miniature painter of the late eighteenth century, was born #onthisday 1742 in Devonshire, England.
Cosway’s miniatures had a distinctive sense of style, and would choose attitudes for his sitters according to contemporary ideas of elegance and sensibility. His artistic hallmark became the way in which he used the surface of ivory as part of the miniatures colour scheme, mainly for the fashionably pale skin of the sitters.
Dated c.1785-90, this portrait miniature of his wife, Maria Cosway, and is regarded as one of Cosway’s greatest masterpieces. In 1781 Cosway married Maria Hadfield, who had moved to London after growing up in an English expatriate family in Florence. She was an important painter, an accomplished musician and, together with her husband, the centre of a highly fashionable circle. Their marriage contributed to their carefully organised joint social and business success. The Cosways were celebrities of their day, famous both as artists and as social figures. Their stormy relationship and affairs added to the public interest in them.