RICHARD COSWAY, R.A. (TIVERTON 1742-1821 LONDON)
RICHARD COSWAY, R.A. (TIVERTON 1742-1821 LONDON)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more Formerly in the Collection of Baron Hatvany
RICHARD COSWAY, R.A. (TIVERTON 1742-1821 LONDON)

Portrait of Maria Cosway (1760-1838)

Details
RICHARD COSWAY, R.A. (TIVERTON 1742-1821 LONDON)
Portrait of Maria Cosway (1760-1838)
pencil, black and red chalk, red and grey ink and wash
8 3⁄8 x 5 1⁄4 in. (21.3 x 13.5 cm.)
Provenance
with Agnew's, London.
J. Pierpont Morgan; Christie's, London, 31 March 1944, lot 89, where purchased by the grandfather of the present owner.
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Maria Cosway, the artist’s wife, was an artist, musician, singer, and pioneer educator, and together they became one of the most celebrated artistic couples of their day. Born in Florence, where her father owned an English hotel, Maria was precociously talented as both a musician and artist. A pupil of Johann Zoffany, she studied the Old Masters and contemporary artists in the Uffizi, and in 1778 was elected to the Florentine Accademia del Disegno, before returning to London with her mother in 1779. On her arrival in London she was introduced to influential figures in the London art world, including Richard Cosway, who she married on 18 January 1781.
The Cosways were both artistically and socially hugely successful in the 1780s, moving within the circle of the Prince of Wales (later George IV), to whom Richard became ‘Primarius Pictor’ in 1785. Maria organised fashionable concerts at their home, Schomberg House, Pall Mall, at which she sang and played the harp, as well as exhibiting at the Royal Academy every year from 1781 to 1789, showing over 30 history paintings and portraits in oil. Very little of her work now survives, but some is known from prints.
Richard made plentiful drawings of Maria, many of which were reproduced as engravings, and it is clear that he loved and idealised her. In the present drawing, Cosway has posed Maria in a manner which echoes Rubens’s portraits of his first wife, Isabella Brant, and put her in one of her most spectacular hats. The drawing was engraved by Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815) in 1785, probably shortly after it was made. Rubens was a continual influence on Cosway, particularly in images of Maria, and of the two of them together; these serve both as a celebration of their love, and as a form of self-promotion within the fashionable art world of 1780s London, raising them to the stature of the great master.

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