Watercolour on ivory; signed lower right; held in a period frame; entire 6 ½ by 6 ½ in; 16.5 x 16.5 cm
Provenance: Private Collection, England
Domenico del Frate was born in Lucca and studied in Florence and Rome where he worked in the studio of Pietro Nocchi (1783- 1854) an exponent of neo-classicism who in turn had been taught by Canova. Specialising in portraiture Nocchi’s influence is clearly apparent in the composition of this miniature; the carefully considered colour balance as well as the overall format is almost like a small version of a Nocchi portrait. It is recorded that Frate, having settled in Rome, diversely worked on ceiling and wall frescoes for churches as well as portraits and historical scenes and undertook commissions for the Vatican.
This charming portrait of a lady in neo-classical attire depicts her holding a miniature of her husband or beloved. The person in the miniature wears a sash and therefore might indicate a nobleman or soldier. The richly decorated interior in the fashionable Empire style suggests perhaps that the sitter is from an aristocratic Italian family.