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REF 2402   John Smart Miniature Ring

A rare portrait miniature ring by the leading 18th century miniature painter, John Smart [circa 1741 -1811]. Smart is renowned for his delicacy of execution and exquisite colouring and examples of his work are in museums across the world. This portrait is of Philadelphia Austen [1730 -1792], elder sister of the Reverend George Austen and aunt of Jane Austen, renowned author. Philadelphia, a spirited girl, travelled to India without dowry in search of a husband at the age of twenty. She married the somewhat older Tysoe Saul Hancock, a surgeon in the East India Company ,with whom she had a daughter, Eliza. Philadelphia is buried in the churchyard of St. John-at-Hampstead, London. The miniature is signed on the left hand side JS and dated beneath the signature 1768. Deirdre Le Fay, in Jane Austen and Her Hancock Relatives [Review Of English Studies Volume 30 No 117 1979] describes a miniature painted by John Smart in 1768 of Philadelphia Austen, a slender, elegant woman with dark eyes and smoothly upswept dark hair, wearing a turquoise-blue dress and a pearl choker. Daphne Foskett in John Smart The Man and His Miniatures lists in Appendix A of Known Sitters : Austen, Miss Philadelphia [after Mrs T.S. Hancock, aunt of Jane Austen] miniature set in a ring.

The ring is size J [US 4 and 5/8], the miniature is set under crystal to a gold shank and the front panel measures 3/4 of an inch by 2/3 of an inch. A rare and exquisite portrait miniature by a leading 18th century miniaturist, executed when he was only in his twenties.

For similar portrait of Philadelphia Austen in possession of the Jane Austen Society, see last image below.


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Portrait miniature of Philadelphia Austen in the possession of the Jane Austen Society.

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