Nov 052011

Yes, there have actually been other things which happened on 5th November besides Mr Guido Fawkes and his failed plot ! This day in 1743 Richard Cosway was born in Tiverton, Devon. He was educated at Blundell’s School before being packed off to London as a twelve-year old. He quickly showed his exceptional talents as an artist, opening his own business as a painter in 1760. Before he was thirty he was sufficiently established to be one of the founder members of the Royal Academy  – an extraordinary achievement.

File:Cosway, Self-portrait.jpgHis specialities were portrait miniatures. This is a self-portrait done in 1770.


and this one, from the National Portrait Gallery, shows him in a slightly less dandy-ish pose:      File:Richard Cosway by Richard Cosway.jpg

In 1781 Cosway married the Anglo-Italian artist Maria Hadfield. It is far from certain that their marriage was more than a sham – he was twenty years her senior, a notorious libertine, but someone who took a keen interest in her career. He drew her on several occasions, including this lithograph.File:Richard Cosway - Retrato de Mrs. Cosway.JPG

The pair led somewhat separate lives, to the extent of travelling abroad with other partners, but when  they were in London together their salon in Pall Mall became extremely fashionable. His wife was nick-named ‘the goddess of Pall Mall’. Someone else gave him the epithet of ‘the little monkey.’ Their marriage was eventually annulled.

Cosway was a close friend of the future King George IV and in 1785 was reportedly awarded the title ‘Painter to the Prince of Wales (the only person to receive the title).  In his later years Cosway suffered from mental health problems, spending time in various institutions. He died in 1821. Here are a few examples of his works:


 Oil painting attributed to Cosway                                                                                                                                        Miniature, ‘unknown gentleman’

(With his miniatures Cosway was unusual in using transparent water colours on ivory, allowing the tone of the ivory to shine through).

He also did pencil sketches, as with this one of Emma Hamilton.Emma, Lady Hamilton, by Richard Cosway, circa 1801 - NPG 2941 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Richard Cosway - Portrait of Lady Almeria Carpenter (1752-1809), Three-Quarter-Length,  in a White Dress with a Chiffon Shawl, in a Landscape      Portrait of Lady Almeria Carpenter, oil on canvas.

                                           And finally his portrait of Mrs Joseph Smith
                  Mrs Joseph Smith Lámina gicléeHappy birthday Richard, may your exquisite work  never be forgotten entirely!

  One Response to “Born this day 1743, the artist Richard Cosway”


    […] Grotto Passage by Caroline’s Miscelleny Servents’ Bells by Caroline’s Miscelleny Born this day, 1743 – the artist Richard Cosway by Georgian Gentleman Whitebait in Greenwich by Georgian Gentleman Tooley Street and Tower Bridge […]

 Leave a Reply