Richard Cosway R.A., A self-portrait of the artist with his wife Maria, both seated in a woodland glade; he, wearing doublet-style tunic and hose, his broad-brimmed hat trimmed with ostrich feathers, a book in his left hand; she, leaning back, gazing at her husband, wearing dress with patterned waistband, a lute by her side
Lot 122
Richard Cosway R.A., A self-portrait of the artist with his wife Maria, both seated in a woodland glade; he, wearing doublet-style tunic and hose, his broad-brimmed hat trimmed with ostrich feathers, a book in his left hand; she, leaning back, gazing at her husband, wearing dress with patterned waistband, a lute by her side
Sold for £14,340 (US$ 23,432) inc. premium

Lot Details
Richard Cosway R.A. (British, 1742-1821)
A self-portrait of the artist with his wife Maria, both seated in a woodland glade; he, wearing doublet-style tunic and hose, his broad-brimmed hat trimmed with ostrich feathers, a book in his left hand; she, leaning back, gazing at her husband, wearing dress with patterned waistband, a lute by her side
graphite, red chalk and wash on laid paper
, mounted on card with painted border, unframed
Rectangular, 285mm. (11 1/4ins.) high
Provenance: Maria Cosway; Commander Gerald Barnett
Literature: G. Barnett; Richard and Maria Cosway, a biography, 1995, plate II

Footnotes

  • The present lot was in Maria Cosway's possession at her death. Probably executed in the early 1780s, it reflects the early years of the Cosway marriage as seen through Richard's eyes. It also presents the Cosways as a fashionable, successful couple and indeed their marriage had made them the centre of social and artistic attention.
    The lute and book allude to the couple's interests and talent - Richard's connoisseurship and Maria's musical abilities. The drawing also looks to Cosway's hero, Rubens, for inspiration, both in the composition and in the couple's quasi-seventeenth century dress.
    James Northcote, a contemporary of the couple, noted that Maria, 'from necessity married Cosway, the miniature painter, who at that time adored her, tho' she always despised him...'. Whether this be true or not, Maria cared for her husband in his latter years and organised a magnificent funeral and monument for him.
    After Richard's death in 1821, Maria also organised a sale of his effects. This took place in February 1822, but she did not sell everything that her husband had owned or painted. She took a selection of his work to a convent in Lodi, Italy where she lived until her death in 1838. The fact that Maria owned this drawing at her death indicates nostalgia for the happier times the couple shared.
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