ADAM BUCK (IRISH 1759-1833)
A pair of portrait miniatures of Caroline Hardwick (née Spencer) (1778-1834) and Joseph Hardwick (1775-1844); she in white dress with frilled border and belt with ‘Wedgwood’ clasp; he in a black coat with a white stock, dated 1803
Watercolour on ivory, both inscribed, signed and dated on the front ‘Buck/1803’
Both cased in gold frames (not matching) and in matching red leather travelling cases with inserts inscribed with sitter’s details (Inscription in the case of Joseph Hardwick’s portrait reads: ‘Joseph, youngest son of John & Mary Hardwick of Credenhill, Herefordshire. Born October 14th 1775. Married Caroline Willshen October 5th 1805. Died November 9th 1844.’/ Inscription in the case of Caroline Hardwick’s portrait reads: ‘Caroline, third daughter of Benjamin & Lydia Willshen of Aldenham, Herts. Born January 28th 1778. Married Joseph Hardwick October 5th 1805. Died July 10th 1834.’
Oval, 2 3/4in (70mm) high (2)
European Private Collection
Adam Buck was primarily a miniaturist, but his personal interest (bordering on obsession) with Classicism crossed into his professional life. Buck spent twenty-five years in his native Ireland before moving to London in 1795 (where the present pair of portraits would have been painted). His love of classicism is echoed here in the inclusion of a fashionable Jasper ware belt buckle worn for her miniature portrait by Caroline Hardwick, possibly made by Josiah Wedgwood and Sons. Caroline’s Neoclassical look was extremely fashionable at this date, her ‘Empire’ style, simple dress and cropped, curled hair marking her out as a modish young woman. Her husband is dressed in the more conventional fashion of the day, only his hairstyle, brushed forwards with longer sideburns, marks him out as a fashionable partner to his future wife.
The date of this pair of portraits precedes that of the Hardwick’s marriage by two years, suggesting that these were perhaps commissioned to celebrate the betrothal of the couple. This is also indicated by the inclusion of a lock of Joseph’s hair on the reverse of his portrait, embellished with an ornamental combination of both Joseph’s and Caroline’s initials, ‘JHC’. Although many miniatures would have been conceived as a pair (for exchange between betrothed or married couples), they are rarely still together as in this case.
By the time this pair of portraits were painted, Buck was well-established as a miniaturist and
moving within circles of like-minded individuals (including the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York and the art collector Thomas Hope, all of whom were admirers of the Antique). Alongside his miniatures, Buck offered elegant watercolour portraits, often comprising of several individuals and occasionally interiors which included Neoclassical furniture. His miniatures painted in watercolour on ivory, like the present pair, are immediately recognisable from their bright blue sky backgrounds and the crisp delineation of the sitter’s features.
This lot is subject to CITES regulations.