Richard Cosway, Unknown Woman

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
Unknown Woman
Medium and support
Pencil on paper
Overall height: 31.5 cm, Overall width: 23 cm
Richard Cosway (1742-1821)
Catalogue Number


The sitter in this portrait has not been identified. She may be related to Mary Esther Sibthorp (1778–1861), the subject of a drawing in the collection by Henry Edridge (TN45).

Richard Cosway was among the most fashionable society portrait painters of the later Georgian period, specialising in pastels, drawings and miniatures. Born in Tiverton, Devon, he established a successful portrait practice in London from the 1760s onwards. He was elected a full member of the Royal Academy in 1772 and was then appointed Painter to the Prince of Wales in 1785, a post which is referred to in the inscription on the present drawing. From 1784 Cosway lived at Schomberg House on Pall Mall, and later at Stratford Place. As in the present work, Cosway would often add flesh tones to the faces of his otherwise monochrome portrait drawings. The ornate chair featured in the present drawing is identifiable as Cosway’s sitters’ chair, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In the inventory of March 1928 it is listed in the Dining Room, with TN45, TN46 and TN48 (all by Edridge), as ‘Another of lady [sic], full length with hand on chair and spaniel at foot signed Rd. Cosway, et F.S.S. etc. 1802 – framed and glazed’.

by Jonny Yarker

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