Shelley, Samuel

Captain George K. H. Coussmaker

c. 1790

Place Made
Watercolor on ivory
oval: 3 1/2 x 2 3/4 in.
Credit Line
The Latter-Schlesinger Collection, Gift of Shirley Latter Kaufmann in memory of Harry and Anna Latter
Lupin Foundation Center for the Decorative Arts
Accession #

In this miniature, Samuel Shelley captures a detail from a well-known portrait by one of the great eighteenth-century artists, Sir Joshua Reynolds. Reynolds’s full body portrait hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and depicts George K. H. Coussmaker as a striking young captain posed alongside his horse.

This masterpiece, previously in the collection of the Vanderbilt family, required twenty-one modeling appointments for Coussmaker—and at least two more for the horse—in the winter of 1782.

Shelley attended the London Royal Academy, where he was influenced by Reynolds, who served as the school’s president. This training led Shelley to develop an interest in full-sized paintings of historical subjects in addition to his work as a miniaturist.