Boy With The Red Cap attributed to John Opie

S/N:TT025

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Boy With The Red Cap attributed to John Opie

TINKER & TOAD
A good quality and well-executed oil on canvas. The artist has captured the subject extremely well. The gilt frame with scrolling foliage and berries. Canvas size 15.25 inches high x 11.5 inches wide.

Opie was born in Harmony Cottage, Trevellas, between St Agnes and Perranporth in Cornwall, England. He was the youngest of the five children of Edward Opie, a master carpenter. He showed a precocious talent for drawing and mathematics, and by the age of twelve he had mastered Euclid and opened an evening school for poor children where he taught reading, writing and arithmetic. His father, however, did not encourage his abilities, and apprenticed him to his own trade of carpentry.
Opie's artistic abilities came to the attention of local physician and satirist, Dr John Wolcot (Peter Pindar), who visited him at the sawmill where he was working in 1775. Recognising a great talent, Wolcot became Opie's mentor, buying him out of his apprenticeship and insisting that he come to live at his home in Truro. Wolcot provided invaluable encouragement, advice, tuition and practical help in the advancement of his early career, including obtaining many commissions for work. In 1781, having gained considerable experience as a portraitist traveling around Cornwall, Opie moved to London with Wolcot. Although Opie had received a considerable artistic education from Wolcot, the doctor chose to present him as a self-taught prodigy; a portrait of a boy shown at the Society of Artists the previous year had been described in the catalogue as "an instance of Genius, not having ever seen a picture." Wolcot introduced the "Cornish wonder" to leading artists, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was to compare him to Caravaggio and Velazquez, and to prospective patrons. The business arrangement with Wolcot lasted for a year, after which Opie informed the doctor that he now wished to go it alone, leading to the estrangement of the two former partners. Through the influence of a Mrs. Boscawen, Wolcot managed to have Opie introduced at the court of King George III. The king purchased one of his pictures and commissioned him to produce a portrait of Mary Delany. He also received commissions to paint the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Lady Salisbury, Lady Charlotte Talbot, Lady Harcourt and other ladies of the court. In 1782 he first exhibited at the Royal Academy and in December of that year. Opie's work, after an initial burst of popularity, rapidly fell out of fashion. In response to this, he began to work on improving his technique, while at the same time seeking to supplement his early education by the study of Latin, French and English literature. In 1786 he exhibited his first important historical subject, the Assassination of James I, and in the following year the Murder of Rizzio, a work whose merit was recognized by his immediate election as an associate of the Royal Academy, of which he became a full member in 1788. He painted five subjects for John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery; and until his death, his practice alternated between portraiture and historical work. Opie died in April 1807, aged 46, at his home in Berners Street, and was buried at St Paul's Cathedral, in the crypt next to Joshua Reynolds, as he had wished. He had no children.

Dimensions: 

  • H: 55.88cm (22.00in)
  • W: 44.45cm (17.50in)
  • D: 55.88cm (22.00in)

Period: 

c1795

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Hello, my name is Miles and I would like to welcome you to my store Tinker & Toad.

We are a family run business in the heart of the beautiful Sussex countryside. We deal in an eclectic mix of antique and modern furniture, architectural salvage, re-worked industrial lighting, decorative arts and a carefully selected choice of paintings and modern art.

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