James Watson after Tilly Kettle
Miss Anne Elliott
19.5 x 29 inches
A full-length mezzotint portrait by James Watson after the painting by Tilly Kettle; engraved in London in 1767.
Anne Elliott was one of the many courtesans and actresses so favoured by the likes of Sir Joshua Reynolds and the beau monde. In this picture she is depicted in classical pose, dressed as Juno, wife of Jupiter and mother of Mars. Juno's sacred animal was the peacock and Miss Elliott is shown in this magnificent print with two peacocks and a chariot. One of Juno's responsibilities was to cast a protective eye over the women of Rome, so this would have been a powerful image for C18th feminism.
Tilly Kettle (1735-86) was an artist of some note who has the distinction of being the first prominent portrait artist to go out to India to work. He began his career in London as the son of a coach painter and with the aristocratic patronage of people like the Earl of Dartmouth became successful enough to be sent out to India by the British East India Company in 1768, the year after this print was made. Whilst in India he painted many of his most accomplished portraits, took an Indian mistress who bore him two sons, and also made a financially advantageous marriage to Mary Davidson. They returned to London in 1776 but Kettle soon found he had fewer clients back in London and the family ran into debt. He attempted to return to India in 1786, travelling overland, but died en route somewhere outside Aleppo.