RICHARD COSWAY, R.A. (Tiverton 1742-1821 London)
Portrait of a veiled lady, probably Maria Cosway, three-quarter length, standing by a column
with inscription ‘M. Johnes.’ (lower left) and ‘by R. Cosway/ 10107’ (lower right)
graphite, heightend with touches of red chalk and watercolor
8 x 618 in. (20.8 x 15.7 cm)
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Lot Essay

King George IV, as Prince of Wales, was Richard Cosway’s chief patron and his favour won the artist numerous important commissions from the Royal family and the British aristocracy. Cosway was held in such high esteem by the Prince of Wales that he was granted the title Primarius Pictor Serenissimi Walliae Principis (Principal Painter to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales) in 1785, and was the artistic advisor for the decorative scheme at Carlton House, even painting the ceiling of the Grand Salon. He was Surveyor of George IV’s picture collection, sourcing paintings from auction houses and dealers. George IV commissioned around fifty portrait miniatures from the artist, which he presented as gifts to members of his family, friends, mistresses and even his secret and illegal wife, Maria Fitzherbert.
Maria Cosway, the artist’s wife, was an artist, musician, singer, and pioneer educator, and together they became one of the most celebrated artistic couples of their day. The present drawing bears a striking resemble to images of the young Maria, dating from shortly after their marriage in 1781.

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