I need to better prepare myself before clicking on Wade’s H/L readmores.
Louis Tomlinson, Viscount Doncaster, and H. E. Styles, ca. 1815
Thomas Phillips (English, 1770-1845)
Watercolor on ivory
Oval, 13cm x 9cm
These two complementary portraits show Phillips at the height of his evocative mastery, if not at his most technically proficient. Styles, a minor composer more notorious in his time for his private life than for his craft, commissioned the miniatures for his friend and patron Lord Doncaster in late 1814. In private correspondence Phillips referred to the project as “Mischief and Mildness,” almost certainly an allusion to the temperaments of his subjects. Of their sessions together he wrote to his friend David Wilkie:
…The Viscount would not cease in his flow of Activity, for even a moment, and I was obliged to Cajole him with Sweetmeats, and with pleas to BE STILL, as I do with my Infant subjects: but fortunately Mr. Styles, who is his Intimate, is able to placate him in these Moods, by Teasing him and, by means mysterious, convincing him not to Stir, for minutes at a time, Mirabile Dictu! I must ensure that Mr. Styles attends me in all future sittings, else I fear I shall never have his Lordship’s likeness; a Blur of Motion might I have for a Model, and perhaps the echo of a Witchy Cackle as it vanishes, and nothing more.
The portraits were kept at Doncaster House until its sale out of the family in 1982. They were displayed, before the house’s renovation in the early 1950s, in the master bedroom rather than the gallery — suggesting that the Viscount, if a difficult sitter, was at least an appreciative client.