|Artist||Samuel William Reynolds, after Sir Joshua Reynolds|
|Published||London, 1836, Hodgson & Graves, 6, Pall Mall|
|Dimensions||Image 128 x 103 mm, Plate 230 x 165 mm, Sheet 405 x 280 mm|
A bust portrait of a Elizabeth Bridget Armistead, as seen from the back, her head in profile and turned to the left, wearing a low cut, almost off-shoulder dress, with lace sleeves, her hair loosely tied up, with long flowing curls.
Little is known about the early life of Elizabeth Bridget Armistead (1750-1842), who was born with Cane as her maiden name, but later changed it to Armistead or Armitstead. She was a courtesan in a high class brothel in London, likely working for Elizabeth Mitchell. Interestingly, there is an 1771 diary entry made by Sir Joshua Reynolds, stating an appointment with 'Mrs Armistead at Mrs Mitchell's, Upper John Street, Soho Square', implying that the artist might have known the sitter intimately, long before this portrait was produced. Elizabeth soon became a mistress to a string of noble men, including Lord Bolingbroke, John Frederick Sackville, Lord George Cavendish, The Earl of Derby and others. Through these connections she acted in several plays, travelled the continent, and was able to support herself. Eventually she became romantically involved with her long time friend Charles Fox, who married her in 1795, and in 1802 the marriage became public and she took his name. They were very happily married, but Charles died in 1806 having been ill with dropsy. She received a pension as a widow of a statesman, and was granted an annuity by King George IV (to who she had at one point also been a mistress). She spent the rest of her life in a quiet domestic setting, and dedicated herself to charity.
Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) was one of the most important figures of the eighteenth century art world. He was the first President of the Royal Academy and Britain's leading portrait painter. Through a series of lectures on the Discourses on Art at the Royal Academy he defined the style later known as the Grand Manner, an idealised Classical aesthetic. He had a profound impact on the theory and practice of art and helped to raise the status of portrait painting into the realm of fine art. A flamboyant socialite, Reynolds used his social contacts to promote himself and advance his career becoming one of the most prominent portrait painters of the period.
Samuel William Reynolds (1773-1835) was a British mezzotinter and occasional painter. He taught David Lucas and Samuel Cousins.
Condition: Wide margins, light surface dirt and occasional foxing to margins,