A curious little portrait miniature with an interesting sitter is expected to generate some interest in Lawrence’s auction in Crewkerne on January 17th.
“The French School miniature, no bigger than a matchbox label, depicts Eleanor Ambrose (1718-1816). She was a celebrated beauty and was also flatteringly described as `witty, intellectual and a fervent patriot`,” explains Anthony Kilroy at Lawrences.
“She ingratiated herself into Dublin society despite being a Catholic and during the Viceroyalty of Lord Chesterfield she became a darling of the Viceregal Court at Dublin Castle. Chesterfield is reported to have told King George II that `poverty not Popery` was to be the more feared in Ireland. He told the King that he had found only one `dangerous` papist, `the brightness of whose eyes and charms, and whose conversation were indeed dangerous`.
He was describing Eleanor Ambrose but the miniature, painted in watercolour on ivory and in a later decorative gilt frame, shows this fabled lady in quite a demure pose.
“Collectors do like portrait miniatures with an unexpected element of interest,” comments Anthony. “We are hoping that it will make up to £250 – but bidding from determined Irish Catholics may yield a higher price.”