Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Immortal Companion: Richard Cosway
Richard Cosway is best known as the leading miniature portrait artist of the Georgian era. He was also known for being married to the fashionable Maria Cosway (whom Thomas Jefferson was in love with at one point) and for being the definition of a macaroni. His white hair was arranged in a high point and Cosway was not adversed to wearing the typical macaroni makeup and colorful clothing. Despite his foppish exterior, Cosway was well respected, a favourite artist of the Prince of Wales, and a founding member of the Royal Academy. Like Gainsborough and Reynolds, anyone who was anyone would have Cosway paint their miniature.
So when it came time for Cosway to commision a painting of his beloved he chose the leading animal portraitist, George Stubbs. Of course, the macroni had the most fashionable type of pet, a tiny white dog. Can't you just see the flamboyant Cosway walking through the streets cradling this little white puff ball? His pup is portrayed with every enlightened sensitibility. Romping in the Rousseau wilderness, he is distracted by a moth and poses in an alert stance with his focus on the airborn insect. Here we have an example of a portrait that totally focuses on the dog and not the dog's owner; an example of the value put on pets. And if your pet just happened to be of the upmost fashion, then it really couldn't hurt to put your dog on display!