The delicate pencil work of this portrait has been highlighted, subtly, by brown wash to add depth to the shaded areas of the face, a technique adopted by a number of small scale portraitists in the 17th century. It’s careful, precise manner suggests that this sensitively drawn head study could have been taken from an existing larger portrait. The artist has concentrated on the face and the hair without even suggesting the form of dress and the lack of finish equates with a certain spontaneity which was appreciated in the seventeenth century as evidence of the artist’s technical skill, and is particularly appealing to modern sensibilities. Believed to have been by Samuel Cooper in the past its manner is similar to works of Susan Penelope Rosse (c.1652-1700).
Having been taught miniature painting under her father Richard Rosse, Susan is known to have studied and copied works by Cooper and it is possible, though not certain, that she had some tuition by him. One of her most notable copies is Cooper’s sketch of the Duke of Monmouth as a boy; the original is in the Royal Collection and Rosse’s copy with Monmouth’s descendant, the Duke of Buccleuch. The previous mistaken attribution of this sketch might rest with the fact that there has been confusion over the work of these two artists, with many of Rosse’s copies believed to be originals by Cooper until more recent times.