Christie's | Fine Art Auction House


26 May 2009  |  Fine Art - Other   |  Article

Focus on Portrait Miniatures by John Smart

A Sign of Success
These portrait miniatures by John Smart, widely considered to be the pre-eminent painter of the Georgian Period, exemplify his skill in capturing not only the personalities of his sitters but also the social currents that underpinned the period. Smart’s miniature of Lieutenant-General Burr exemplifies his celebrated portraits of dashing members of the Honourable East India Company and that of Lucy Burr, his portraits of charming society beauties.

A Distinguished Georgian General
His portrait miniature of Lieutenant General Daniel Burr (1749-1828), when Colonel of the 10th Madras Native Infantry, to be offered in the Centuries of Style sale, shows the artist’s exceptional attention to detail and ability to capture the personality of his sitter. From the Colonel’s expressive face to his impeccable military badges, Smart presents the recently promoted Colonel in his new red-faced uniform with the Colonel’s two stars and the Honourable East India Company’s coat-of-arms on the shoulder. Lieutenant General Daniel Burr first joined the East India Company in 1767 as a cadet in Madras. Burr’s career in the army was a distinguished one and, as the details in the portrait suggest, he was a Colonel by 1803. Following further promotion, Burr was advanced to the rank of Lieutenant General in 1815. His ascent through the ranks is documented in other known portraits exhibited at the Royal Academy by Smart, and Sir Martin Archer Shee, R.A., each depicting Burr in different uniform.

Regency Refinement
Also to be offered in the sale is another portrait miniature by John Smart, of the Lieutenant General’s wife, Lucy Burr (1773-1805), née Parry. Her refined features and fashionable white muslin dress give life to Jane Ausen’s Regency heroines. Smart expertly highlights the beauty and elegance of his sitter through his delicate handling of her jewelled pearl necklace and striking green eyes. The miniature bears the date 1804, which was also the year of the couple’s marriage, and suggests that it may have been commissioned to celebrate the event. Lucy Burr was the daughter of Thomas Parry, of Banstead, who was one of the Directors of the Honourable East India Company and it is possible that Lieutenant General Daniel Burr’s mutual involvement in the company brought the couple together. Tragically, Lucy passed away only a year after her marriage leaving behind a daughter, Lucy Mary Anne Burr (1804-1884), whose portrait was also sketched by Smart.

Related Sale
Sale 7731
Centuries of Style: Silver, European Ceramics, Portrait Miniatures and Gold Boxes
2 Jun 2009
London, King Street

Related Departments
Portrait Miniatures

Related Artists
John Smart

John Smart

Lot 263, Sale 7731
JOHN SMART (BRITISH, 1742/43-1811)
Lieutenant General Daniel Burr (1749-1828), when Colonel of the 10th Madras
Price Realized: £58,850