Pastel on paper stretched on linen
Sheet: 94 x 68.6 cm (37 x 27 in.)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2022.136
Pastel portraiture, which became fashionable in the 18th century, was prized for its powdery, matte surface, which created a fresco-like quality when placed in small rooms lit by candlelight.
This pastel portrait of George Clavering Cowper, 3rd Earl Cowper (1738–1789), was made in Florence, the earl’s permanent home, by the most celebrated Irish portraitist of the Grand Tour. Cowper prominently wears the sash and star of the Order of St. Hubertus, a knightly order of aristocratic hunters to which he was inducted in March 1785. It seems likely that the bucolic scene was commissioned to commemorate the honor. Cowper’s hunting dog receives a tender pat on the head and wears a bold shining metal collar inscribed with Cowper’s name.
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