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Portrait of Charles Lossett, Esq.

Hone, Nathaniel

Portrait of Charles Lossett, Esq.

oil on canvas

2002 Gift of Charles B. Stacy

Born in Ireland, Nathaniel Hone traveled to England when he was a young man to work as an itinerant portrait painter. In London, he established a reputation as a successful portrait painter and was known for his skill in painting portrait miniatures. Miniatures were very popular among the middle class. The small portrait, usually painted in watercolor or enamel, allowed people to carry the likeness of a loved one much like its contemporary version -- the wallet size photograph.

Hone's portraits of middle class patrons reveal the character of the sitter much like the portraits of John Singleton Copely and Charles Willson Peale. Hone did not idealize his subjects. He painted people as he saw them. In "Portrait of Charles Lossett, Esq." Hone used a three-quarter pose that was popular at the time. The subject is holding a document which reveals his status as an educated man. Eighteenth century portraits characteristically present the subject holding an object representing his trade or status. Artists often altered the appearance of the subject's clothing according to the way that person wanted to be seen. However, the plain clothing of Charles Lossett in this portarit suggests that Hone did not follow that common practice. Apparently Charles Lossett did not mind being portrayed in plain clothing.