Core Holdings of the Tormey-Holder Collection: Gustavus Hamilton
Eighteenth Century Irish Gentleman, Wearing a Blue Coat
with Gold Buttons and a Matching Waistcoat
by Gustavus Hamilton (1739-1775)
1 1/16 x 1 5/16 inches (sight)
watercolor on ivory; housed in a gold bracelet frame
About the Artist: Gustavus Hamilton was born in County Meath, Ireland (just north of Dublin). At a young age, he studied under Irish painter Robert West, at his drawing school located on George's Lane in Dublin (which later became the Royal Dublin Society Art Schools). He then apprenticed under Samuel Dixon, an Irish artist known for his watercolor paintings and, in particular, his depictions of flowers and birds in bas-relief (embossed paper-mâché). Upon branching out on his own, he established himself as a portrait painter, primarily painting miniature portraits in watercolor on ivory, but also painting larger portraits in pastels. Exhibited at the Society of Artists in Ireland (Dublin) from 1765-1773. Died in Dublin at the young age of 36. Hamilton's miniatures are typically quite small and are often housed in lockets or bracelets. He employed soft, rounded edges in his paintings, used a tinge of blue when shading faces, and depicted his subjects with disproportionately large eyes and noses -- creating a distinctive look that could be described in modern parlance as "cute". Surviving miniatures by him are highly collectible. Listed by Benezit, Blättel (pages 434, 435), Foskett (page 555) and Schidlof (page 330).