PORTRAIT OF A REGENCY BOY - BY GEORGE WATSON P.R.S.A.
Fine and sensitively rendered portrait of a Regency boy, oil on canvas, circa 1820 by renowned artist George Watson (1767-1837) Housed in a period gilt frame. The as yet unknown sitter (but likely a member of the gentry) wears the traditional costume of children of high status, specifically a fashionable yellow waistcoat, jacket with gilt buttons and a stiff white ruff which is the perfect foil to the features of his his tender face. He looks ourt at the viewer with a quiet confidence in contrast to his cheeks which have the visible flush of youth.
George Watson (1767-1837)
George Watson RSA was a Scottish portrait painter and first president of the Royal Scottish Academy.Watson was born at his father's estate, Overmains, Berwickshire, in 1767, the son of John Watson and Frances Veitch of Elliott. He received his early education in Edinburgh, and got some instruction in painting from Alexander Nasmyth but when 18 years of age he went to London with an introduction to Sir Joshua Reynolds, who received him as a pupil. After two years spent in Sir Joshua's studio, he returned to Edinburgh, and established himself as a portrait-painter.
In 1808 he was associated with other painters in starting a society of artists, which, however, only lasted a few years. He exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy and the British Institution, and about 1815 was invited to London to paint a number of portraits, including those of the dean of Canterbury and Benjamin West. In 1820, in spite of much opposition from the Royal Institution, the Scottish Academy was founded, and Watson, who had been president of the previous society, was elected to the same office in the new one, the ultimate success of which was largely due to his tact and ability. He continued as president until his death, the academy receiving its royal charter a few months afterwards.
It is said that he long maintained an honourable rivalry with Henry Raeburn but, although his grasp of character was firm, his executive power considerable, and his work belonged to a fine convention, his portraiture lacks the qualities which give that of his fellow artist enduring interest. He is represented in the National Gallery of Scotland by portraits of two brother artists, Benjamin West and two of Archibald Skirving; and in the Scottish Portrait Gallery by a number of portraits, including one of himself, and one of William Smellie, which some consider his best piece of work.
Shortly after his return from his first visit to London he married Rebecca, daughter of William Smellie, printer and naturalist, who, with five children, survived him. Watson died in Edinburgh on 24 August 1837. He is buried on the southern wall of St Cuthberts Churchyard in Edinburgh. His nephew John Kippen Watson FRSE lies with him
Canvas: 30" x 25" / 76cm x 63cm.
Framed: 38" x 33" / 96cm x 83cm.
Higher resolution images on request.
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