Thomson, William John - portrait of young lady

Painted in 1820 is this charming miniature of an unknown young lady by William John Thomson (1771-1845).

Although the portrait was painted in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thomson was born in the United States in Savannah, Georgia and has therefore been classified as an American artist in this collection.

Most of Thomson's portraits are oval and show the sitter with a solemn expression, but this young lady has a hint of a smile. In this miniature, as well as in another one attributed to him in this collection, Thomson painted the irises, within the eyes, as inverted crescent moons, and without an obvious fleck of white to show the light reflection commonly seen in most paintings of eyes.

The portrait is dated 1820 and thus, along with other dated miniatures in the collection, becomes a very useful source in dating 19C costume.

Thomson's father was a Government official who lost his position after the War of Independence and then retired to England on a small pension.

Thomson learned to paint portraits and miniatures in London but later moved to Edinburgh. There he married Helen Colhoun on 12 May 1797, He exhibited many times and was recognised as an accomplished artist.

He became a member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1829 and was even offered a knighthood, but this was declined.

In 1820, the date of this portrait, he was living at 20 Dundas Street, Edinburgh.

The sitter is unknown. 1213

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