58.5 x 45.5cm platemark; 62.0 x 48.7cm sheet
The mezzotint by William Ward after John Hoppner represents the daughters of Sir Thomas Frankland, Marianne and Amelia, tenderly caressing within a woodland enclave, while a faithful spaniel sleeps at their feet. Marianne hugs Emilia, who holds a crayon and portfolio of sketches. The depiction of natural settings in portraiture in this period served to draw attention to the informality, simplicity and natural sincerity of the sitters. It was also a response to the late 18th century cult of Sensibility – the capacity to feel refined emotions together with the capacity for delicate perceptions, especially of natural beauty.
The mezzotint reproduces John Hoppner’s painting, ‘The Frankland sisters’ (1795) in the National Gallery Washington. The velvety softness and delicacy of forms constitute a remarkable high point in Ward’s engraving. The mezzotint is a rare proof impression (which accounts for its tonal richness), before the addition of printed inscriptions below the image.
J.C. Smith (Author), British Mezzotinto Portraits Described, London, 1882, Part IV, 1466. no.38