- British (London 1734 - 1786 Aleppo, Turkey)
Portrait of a young girl in cream dress with blue sash, half length in a painted oval.
Oil on canvas, 54 x 47 cms
Provenance: From an Indian collection
Our portrait is closely related to the Portrait of Two Children in Eastern Costumes sold at Sotheby’s New York on June 9th 2011, now in the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The young girl in our portrait is undoubtedly by the same hand as the author of the double portrait. See: Giorgio Riello: Imperial Lives: Two Children in Asian Clothing . From: The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth Volume 6, Number 2, Spring 2013, pp. 197-205 10.1353/hcy.2013.0030
Tilly Kettle was born in London in 1734 and established a career as a portrait painter working in a style influenced by Reynolds. From 1762-64, he worked mainly in Oxford and the Midlands due to the intense competition from other artists in London, but returned there in 1764. In 1768, he set off for India, perhaps encouraged to establish a career as a portrait painter there by Vice-Admiral Sir Samuel Cornish, whose portrait he had painted in that same year. He disembarked at Madras in June 1769 at the age of thirty-four and was to stay in India until 1776. There he found the great success that had eluded him in England and he made a considerable fortune painting portraits, not only of his countrymen living in India, but also of Indian royalty. Other British artists such as Johann Zoffany and Ozias Humphrey were to follow Kettle to India, no doubt encouraged by the successful patronage he enjoyed there. Kettle returned to London in 1776, though he was never to achieve the same degree of popularity in London, where the scene was still dominated by Reynolds and Gainsborough. It was mainly through his old Indian contacts that he secured work after his return. After a decade back in England, he decided to return to India, but died en route in July 1786.