A famed portrait in enamel of three eighteenth century society beauties will be one of the highlights of the Fine Portrait Miniatures auction at Bonhams on 28 June.
Estimated at £10,000-£15,000, The Three Graces, by Henry Bone, portrays the Ladies Rushout: Anne, Harriet and Elizabeth, the three daughters of John Rushout, Baron Northwick of Northwick Park and his wife, Rebecca.
Renowned for their beauty and charm during their lifetimes, the sisters were painted together many times. Bone's enamel offered by Bonhams derives from Andrew Plimer's earlier portrait miniature of the trio on ivory - arguably Plimer's most famous work. An engraving of the same composition is with the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
The 28 June sale will include a charming portrait miniature of three young children painted by the French artist, Mme Jeanne Doucet de Surigny. Signed, "Mlle Glaesner", the piece, estimated to sell at £4,000-£6,000, is an extremely rare example of the artist's work-few miniatures pre-dating her marriage exist.
The three children portrayed could possibly be those of Lord Robert Seymour (1748-1831). The emotional closeness between the children conveyed in this carefully staged but relaxed composition presents a tender family image - a far cry from the subjects of some of Doucet de Surigny's later works. In a miniature of 1791, under the pseudonym "La Citoyenne Doucet", the artist portrayed the revolutionary, Jean Nicholas Billaud-Varenne, often considered a central protagonist in the Reign of Terror, when tens of thousands lost their lives to the infamous guillotine.
"The Three Graces is one of the most famous compositions of the late Georgian period and remains the most recognisable portraits of the Ladies Rushout. Printed reproductions of the original provided the wider public of the time with an idealised image of English beauty and Bone's example is exceptional in its impact," Jennifer Tonkin, Specialist in the Portrait Miniatures department stated. "Doucet de Surigny's rare and charming portrait miniature invites us to understand the sacredness of childhood innocence and companionship prior to the evolution of child portraiture that occurred during the Victorian era. We are delighted to be able to offer both works in the forthcoming auction and look forward to their reception ahead of the 28th June".