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Henry Collen (1798-1879)

Lady Catherine Vernon-Harcourt (1837-1877) Signed and dated 1838

Watercolour on ivory laid on card | 4.1 x 3.4 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external) | RCIN 420413

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  • Born in Middlesex, London, in 1798, Henry Collen received a formal artistic training at the Royal Academy Schools from September 1820, although he had been a pupil of the painter George Hayter as early as 1819. It was through Hayter that Collen was first introduced in court circles. By 1835 Collen had been made Miniature Painter to the Duchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria, and his appointment as 'Miniature Painter to Her Majesty' on 16 August 1837 followed Queen Victoria's accession. He developed a distinguished clientele, but at the apogee of his career as a miniature painter he went into business with W.H. Fox Talbot, the inventor of the calotype process, becoming the first professional calotypist in London. The venture may not have been successful, for he exhibited miniatures at the RA throughout this period and continued to do so until 1872. He died aged eighty-one at 15 Portland Place, Brighton, on 8 May 1879.

    Lady Catherine Jenkinson, eldest daughter of Sir Charles Cope Jenkinson, 9th Baronet, and 3rd Earl of Liverpool, and Julia Medley, daughter of Sir George Shuckbourgh-Evelyn, 6th Baronet, married, on 22 November 1837, Colonel The Honourable Francis Vernon-Harcourt, ninth son of the 1st Baron Vernon, Equerry to the Duchess of Kent. Princess Victoria of Kent found her a congenial companion 'for, independently of her extraordinary talent for music, for she can play anything at first sight, most beautifully and understands it tho-roughly, which is a great delight for me – she is an extremely sensible, agreeable young person and is very fond of reading and occupations' (RA QVJ: 26 October 1836).

    Signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse in ink: 1838. / Portrait of Lady Cathe / C J Vernon Harcourt – / Painted by Henry Collen. / Miniature Painter to / The Queen and the / Duchess of Kent, / 37 Somerset Street, / Portman Square / London.

    Given to Queen Victoria by the sitter in 1838

  • Medium and techniques

    Watercolour on ivory laid on card


    4.1 x 3.4 cm (support, canvas/panel/str external)

    5.2 x 4.5 cm (frame, external)