Oil on canvas; held in original gilt wood oval frames; entire 21 by 17 ins; 53 x 43 cm; inscribed, signed and dated "Nottingham, 1787" on reverse; a pair
Provenance: Family descent
Thomas Peat is best remembered foremost as a miniaturist. However, earlier in his career he seems to have favoured painting small scale portraits in oil sometimes on tin, panel, or canvas. The pair presented here are of quite an unusually large scale for Peat and are amongst some of his earliest known works. He appears to have worked as a journeyman artist and led a peripatetic existence prior to 1790, painting the comfortable landed or merchant class around the Midland counties of England. By 1791 he was settled in London and exhibiting at the Royal Academy on a fairly regular basis. He was obviously recognized as a rising talent as a contemporary poem stated “In striking likenesses, those talents are rare, with the ingenious Peat few can compare”. As his career progressed he seems to have concentrated on miniature painting and moved to Bath (1819-22), Leamington (1828) and Bristol (1830-31). Examples of his work can be found at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum, London; the Holburne Museum, Bath and at the Louvre and Cognacq-Jay Museum, Paris.
Fine examples of Peat’s early portrait style, these portraits display clarity and precision and a freshness of colour, factors that were to stand him in good stead for his later work as a miniaturist. Inscribed with the details of the sitters on reverse there appears to be quite a noticeable age difference between the two so it is possible that they could represent mother and son rather than husband and wife, as has been previously assumed. Having said this many marriages in the 18th century took place for financial and class reasons with little interest in the difference of age.