Monday, February 9, 2015

John Hoppner, Miss Mercer Elphinstone

John Hoppner, Miss Mercer Elphinstone
22.625 x 18.5 in.

John Hoppner (1758-1810) was a prominent English portrait painter, known for his use of color. Born in Whitechapel, London to German parents, his mother was an attendant at the royal palace. King George III took an interest in Hoppner when he was a boy, leading to spurious rumors that he was the king's illegitimate son.  Hoppner entered the Royal Academy in 1775 and achieved significant success before becoming the official portrait painter to the Prince of Wales. Many of his works are typical eighteenth century portraits in style, but he conveys great vivacity in his subjects to create engaging paintings.  This portrait is a lovely and simple piece.  Hoppner represents this young woman with great care and portrays her intelligence and poise.  While most of Hoppner's works show elaborate period dress and are very marked by their time, including his self-portrait, this painting seems quite contemporary by comparison.  In part due to her simple clothing, Miss Mercer is very present and we can feel an immediate connection with her.  With the simple background and garment, her beauty stands out quite well and we have a strong sense that we know Miss Mercer Elphinstone.

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