Photo credit: Atkinson Art Gallery Collection
Could the painter of this work be Francis Cotes? I see many similarities between his work and the work of this unknown artist. Including the positioning of the long skinny fingers. The faces are similarly constructed and I believe the way this artist handles the fabric of the dress is very similar to that of Francis Cotes. Furthermore, the backgrounds of Cotes's portraits show a striking resemblance to this portrait of a lady.
Francis Cotes on Art UK: http://bit.ly/2ckyLLE
The collection note:
'When it was acquired it was listed as 'Unknown Artist'. A Bonham's valuation of 2005 lists it as circle of Joseph Highmore. To me it looks a little like Allan Ramsay's work but less well modelled – a studio production maybe? See: http://bit.ly/2cJwyKa
Stephen Whittle 26/8/2016'
To me this is a portrait of an earlier generation than Cotes. The pose and dress speak of the 1730s or 1740s. Lou Taylor will be able to be more definitive. Highmore looks a reasonable direction to look, but it it does not seem to be distinctive enough to be likely to be attributable to a leading painter.
The Atkinson's 1740 portrait of a lady by Highmore does not seem to be by the same hand as this.
I would like to suggest that portrait might be earlier than Francis Cotes- maybe 1720s 30s. The whole mood of the dress seems to me to be more of that period- the full artistic sleeves, the long busk and the stress on the long corset underneath the simplicity of the dress.. 1760s and 70s artistic dress portraits are much more neoclassical in style with more and more complex draperies. I have found a vaguely similar portrait of Lady Isabella Leigh by John Vanderbank from the Atkinson Gallery- HE died in 1739 ...just floating an idea here.
Could this be by one of the visiting portraitists from Europe using a London based drapery painter?
Can't see Cotes' hand in this myself.
The sky is Frenchified. Could it be by Philippe Mercier?
I think Mercier had a lighter touch. This seems too heavily handled, especially in the head.
I tend to agree with you, Richard, but I am pretty certain that the head is by a different artist from the rest of the picture.
The head and arms look as if they were painted by a provincial portraitist of similar stature as the artist who painted the Beaumont Family [Treasurer's House, York] attributed to Hamlet Winstanley - although I think that these are by a different hand.
The face is much too doll-like for Cotes. It looks mechanical or generic, and I agree the head and arms were probably not done by the painter of the dress.
Although Highmore's (female) faces are variable in quality, he was certainly capable of better than the face in this picture.
It does, to my eye look like Francis Cotes
I think Thomas Hudson and Joseph Highmore (especially the former), or "style of" either, are plausible possibilities. Hudson used the same sort of background in several female portraits (and some male ones) in 3/4 length.
This is an oil painting, and I understand Cotes didn't switch from pastels to oils until the 1760s. Thus, the dress in this picture is too early to be by Cotes.
I have attached a composite created with this work and a painting from the Alamy website “Portrait of Elizabeth Hatch” by Joseph Highmore that is dated 1725. https://tinyurl.com/5ej3muwv. There are many similarities, including: the sky, the shape of the dress (compare the waist in each painting), the arms and neck, and the hair. They could be mother and daughter.
The Portrait of Elizabeth Hatch appears as attributed to George Knapton on various auction sites (for example here (https://bit.ly/3FxLs3u) and that's what it was sold as at Sotheby's in 2009 (https://bit.ly/303DJKh - though no image to match).
The 1725 date can't be right either as the Sotheby's notes only give Hatch as being born in 1724, so a date of around 1740 seems more plausible.
It’s great that you found those two websites. I have attached an improved composite (based on the better image on the MutualArt website). The lace, eyes and mouth are a closer match on this composite.