Henry Bone, R.A. (British, 1755-1834) The artist's son, Peter Joseph Bone (1785-1814), seated at a table and reading, wearing red coat and waistcoat, white chemise
Lot 98
Henry Bone, R.A.
(British, 1755-1834)
The artist's son, Peter Joseph Bone (1785-1814), seated at a table and reading, wearing red coat and waistcoat, white chemise
£ 15,000 - 25,000
US$ 21,000 - 35,000

Lot Details
Henry Bone, R.A. (British, 1755-1834) The artist's son, Peter Joseph Bone (1785-1814), seated at a table and reading, wearing red coat and waistcoat, white chemise
Henry Bone, R.A. (British, 1755-1834)
The artist's son, Peter Joseph Bone (1785-1814), seated at a table and reading, wearing red coat and waistcoat, white chemise.
Enamel, signed on the obverse HBone, signed on the counter-enamel and dated Portrait of/ Pet Joseph Bone/ Henry Bone pinxt/ May 1796, gilt-metal mount.
Oval, 124mm (4 7/8in) high
Literature: R. Walker, Henry Bone's Pencil Drawings, The Walpole Society, 1999, vol.II, p.1, pl.2.


  • The present lot derives from Sir Joshua Reynolds' 1747 portrait, 'Boy Reading' that was in turn a re-working of Rembrandt's 1655 portrait of his son, 'Titus at his desk' (Museum van Boijmans Beuningen, Rotterdam). Reynolds' portrait was exhibited at Birmingham's Museum and Art Gallery in 1961 (Exhibition Of Works By Sir Joshua Reynolds 1723-1792: February-March 1961 At The City Of Birmingham Museum And Art Gallery: Exhibition Catalogue no.4) and is located in the collection of the Earl of Normanton at Somerley, Hampshire. 'Boy Reading' falls into a body of Reynolds' work known as his 'fancy paintings', which portrayed single un-named children (often orphans or street children) reading or sleeping that were not commissioned but painted for his own pleasure. The boy he used for the 1747 portrait was a street child he used in a number of other works including, 'The Infant Samuel' (c.1776). The origins of this genre stem from 17th century Dutch interior scenes by the likes of Rembrant and Vermeer, portraying single figures, deep in thought whilst undertaking a daily task. In contrast to the Bone portrait, the contemplative gaze of both Titus van Rijn and Reynolds' subject is directed away from what they have just read.

    Bone has used his son Peter as a model for his slightly altered version in enamel and has brought the portrait into the 1790s by portraying him in contemporary clothing. His preparatory drawing squared in ink and recorded as 'unknown boy' is inscribed after Sr J. Reynolds./ for Dr. Wolcot. 1793. and For - Myself - 1796., indicating that he originally produced the enamel for his friend, the satirist and physician, Dr. John Wolcot (1738–1819) and later made a copy for himself (NPG Acqn. No. D17367).

    A slightly earlier enamel portrait by Henry Bone inscribed on the counter-enamel P. J. Bone, born/ 21 Jany. 1785/ HBone pinxt. and dated April 9, 1788, was auctioned by Christie's on 9 November 1965 (lot 73). Foskett suggests that while the sitter was catalogued as, 'Miss P. J. Bone', the sitter could instead be the artist's son, Peter Joseph, since a name for his seventh child, 'probably' a daughter, is not recorded. The same enamel was later auctioned at Christie's on the 27 November 1979 (lot 36) and the sitter was catalogued, 'Peter Joseph Bone'.

    Peter Joseph Bone was the second son of Henry Bone and followed in his father's artistic footsteps. Before the age of sixteen, Peter painted a portrait of Dr Wolcot who wrote under the 'nom de plume' of Peter Pindar. Peter Joseph was awarded a silver palette by the Society of Arts in 1800-1801 and exhibited an enamel portrait of a Lady at the Royal Academy in 1801. However, he joined the army as a Lieutenant in the 36th Regiment of Foot (the Hereford's) and was injured at Toulouse in a bloody battle that saw one British and two Spanish divisions of the Allied army battered on 10 April 1814.

    When news of Peter's return to England reached George Capel-Coningsby, 5th Earl of Essex (1757–1839), he wrote to Henry Bone offering to have his son taken from a military hospital in Plymouth to his seat at Cassiobury House, Hertfordshire, where, at his own personal expense, he would provide the best medical treatment available. Henry Bone had produced an enamel portrait of Essex after John Hoppner two years earlier. Lieutenant Bone sadly didn't survive long enough to make the journey to Cassiobury and died of his wounds shortly after his arrival in England. Two days following his despatch from Toulouse, the Duke of Wellington arrived on the battlefield, only to receive official news from Paris of Napoleon's abdication hours later. The Battle of Toulouse cost the Allied army, 4,558 casualties, exceeding that of the French by 1,322.
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  1. Jennifer Tonkin
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