Nathaniel Plimer (British, 1751-1822) A rare self-portrait of the artist, wearing pale yellow coat, white waistcoat, frilled chemise, stock and cravat, his powdered hair tied with a black ribbon bow, a paint brush held up in his left hand
Lot 111Y
Nathaniel Plimer
(British, 1751-1822)
A rare self-portrait of the artist, wearing pale yellow coat, white waistcoat, frilled chemise, stock and cravat, his powdered hair tied with a black ribbon bow, a paint brush held up in his left hand
Sold for £17,500 (US$ 29,797) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Nathaniel Plimer (British, 1751-1822)
A rare self-portrait of the artist, wearing pale yellow coat, white waistcoat, frilled chemise, stock and cravat, his powdered hair tied with a black ribbon bow, a paint brush held up in his left hand.
Gold frame.
Oval, 92mm (3 5/8in) high
Provenance: Christie's, London, 2 May 1961, lot 172 (the sitter identified as the artist's brother, Andrew Plimer).

Footnotes

  • Although traditionally believed to be a portrait of the artist's brother, Andrew, and catalogued as such in the Christie's sale of 1961, further research suggests that it is more likely to be a self-portrait by Nathaniel. The facial features shown in the present lot are closely comparable with a self-portrait by Nathaniel in the collection of the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore (Accession no.38.84). The Walters' miniature portrays the artist, again in semi-profile to the right, without his paint brush, wearing a dark grey coat and less powder in his hair. The lines around the sitter's forehead and eyes in the present lot suggest the miniature is the later work and indeed it shows the painting technique of the mature Nathaniel Plimer.

    Opinion as to the identity of a number of portraits of the Plimer brothers has changed over the years. Another self-portrait of Nathaniel from circa 1805-1810 was also originally identified as a self-portrait by Andrew Plimer and once formed part of the J. Pierpont Morgan collection (sold in his sale at Christie's, London, 26 June 1935, lot 393; G. C. Williamson, Andrew and Nathaniel Plimer, 1903, p.63, ill.pl.75F). The miniature was however re-identified as a self-portrait by Nathaniel Plimer when it was exhibited at the South Kensington Museum in 1865 (p.202, no.2226) and at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2001 (S. Lloyd, Portrait Miniatures From The Clarke Collection, SNPG, 2001, ill.p.87. no.60).

    The latter miniature is comparable with an oil portrait by Andrew Geddes (1783-1844), which sold at Christie's, Edinburgh on 27 October 2005 (lot 15). Again, the gentleman had previously been identified as Andrew Plimer but in 1903, George Williamson suggested that the painting was more likely to portray Nathaniel, in view of the work's provenance via Adela Plimer, his daughter and Geddes' wife (Williamson, 1903, p.62).

    The only undisputed likeness of Andrew Plimer, a self-portrait on paper (Williamson, 1903, ill.p.62), shows a gentleman with tufted eyebrows and a less bulbous tip to the nose in comparison with the present lot. Given the evidence displayed by the aforementioned portraits of both brothers, a re-identification of the present sitter as Nathaniel appears more tenable.

    The elder son of a Shropshire clockmaker, Nathaniel left home with his younger brother Andrew (1763-1837) and travelled around the country with a group of gypsies, making their own brushes and decorating caravans before reaching London in 1781. Nathaniel found employment at Henry Bone's house as a servant before joining Andrew as a pupil of Richard Cosway. He exhibited at the RA between 1787-1815 and at the Society of Artists between 1790-1791. He worked from 31 Maddox Street in London, married and had four daughters: Georgina, Mary, Louisa and Adela. Like his brother Andrew, Nathaniel stopped signing his work after 1789 (D. Foskett, Miniatures Dictionary and Guide, 1987, p.620).
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