here, for example), when I paint civilians for the AWI I like to draw inspiration from contemporary artwork. I choose one of my various exhibition catalogues of later 18th century artists and pick out suitable "models". This approach only really works when painting up "aristocrats" and civilians in top-draw outfits like these figures, as surviving portraits are invariably of the well-to-do types who could afford to commission the leading artists of the day. Buut contemporary paintings do give you an idea of the fashions of the day. So I thought I'd put up pictures of the various paintings I followed for these figures. These were painted, with one exception as detailed below, by the English artist Joseph Wright, usually styled "Joseph Wright of Derby", who lived between 1734 and 1797. Wright went to Liverpool in 1768 and spent 3 years there mainly painting portraits of the local gentry and (usually slave-owning) merchants. His subjects included a certain John Tarleton, businessman and major of Liverpool in 1764, and his wife Jane; their second son joined the 1st Dragoon Guards in 1775....The book I used is the catalogue of an exhibition of the work Wright produced during his time in Liverpool.
The "gamekeeper", with his madder red coat and breeches and royal blue waistcoat is modelled on Wright's portrait of Fleetwood Hesketh, dating from 1769. The Hesketh family were Lancashire landowners with business interests in Liverpool. Hesketh is shown here in his hunting outfit (complete with powder horn and gun).
The "notary" is based on a 1766 portrait of Richard Gildart (1671-1770), a businessman specialising in shipping, tobacco and rock salt. He was mayor of Liverpool three times and then served as Member of Parliament for the city from 1734 to 1754. Gildart became one of the leading Liverpool slave traders, sending ships to West Africa to barter tobacco for slaves that were then shipped to the West Indies. I used the Foundry "Quagmire 63" palette for the coat. The catalogue states that at the time of painting the coat has "a slightly outmoded, deep-cuffed style", which isn't really out of place for a man who was 95 at the time of sitting.
Nothing of Wright's own work jumped out at me for the "gent", but one of the introductory essays in the catalogue featured a 1755 portrait by George Stubbs of James Stanley. Stubbs is nowadays revered as a painter of horses, particularly racehorses. Nothing is known about James Stanley other than that he was a cousin of the 11th Earl of Derby, was 33 at the time of this painting, and was probably a fried of Stubbs' during the latter's childhood in Liverpool. I saw this picture and thought a dark blue coat, red waistcoat, and white lining would be suitable for the "gent". This painting is actually the earliest surviving painting by Stubbs (he was 31 at the time). He may have sensed that portraiture wasn't his forte.
No "model" was used for the little boy. Hoop rolling has been a children's game since the earliest times - the ancient Greeks even turned it into an adult sport. By the 1840s it was a real problem in the streets of London and newspapers led calls for the activity to be banned. At this time many hoops were made of iron and so often caused injury to pedestrians. Maybe I should have painted the "gent" as an admiral - not quite sure how I would have used him, though. The "gamekeeper", on the other hand, may well see militia service at some stage.
Four figures. Painted December 2015.