1739 - 1808
Portrait of Lieutenant William Jeffrey

Pastel on paper
Image size: 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches (24 x 19 cm)
Period gilt oval frame


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This is a wonderful portrait of a Lieutenant William Jeffrey created circa 1793, when the sitter was only 15 years of age. It is likely to have been done for his family just before Jeffrey set sail on the Houghton on Tuesday 27th May 1793. Shortly before this voyage he had been promoted to a Lieutenant in his Majesty’s 74th regiment stationed at Fort St George, Dacca, where his father was also stationed.

The Houghton ship was named after the eponymous house in Norfolk and was the fifth vessel of the name. It was built by Wells Yard, Deptford in 1782 and completed five cruises before being wrecked in 1803 in the China Sea.


Hugh Douglas Hamilton

Douglas Hamilton was born in Dublin, the son of a wig maker. He trained at the Dublin Society School of Drawing under Robert West. After leaving the academy, Hamilton set up his business as a portraitist, painting small, oval portraits in pastel – or crayon as it was known. His relocation to London by the early 1760s brought commissions from the royal family, and in 1779 he was sufficiently wealthy to move to Italy with his wife and daughter.

During his time in Rome he started painting large-scale history scenes in oil, in the popular neoclassical style. After his return to Ireland in 1792 he was widely regarded as the best portraitist in Dublin and was never short of work. From 1804 onwards he painted few works, and after his death some of his late portraits were finished by his daughter.