James Watson after Catherine Read
11.5 x 15
A half-length mezzotint portrait, engraved by James Watson after Catherine Read and published in London in 1768.
A charming study of Miss Helena Beatson, Catherine Read's niece, poised with a pen in her hand, in the process of drawing an anatomical study of a mother and child. She wears a turban on her head and a string of pearls around her neck. There is a particular poignancy to this image as the artist, Catherine Read, is one of the few women who regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy during the 1760s and she has chosen a young girl as her subject. She is well known for selecting women and children as her sitters and there would be a significance to the fact that Miss Beatson is not sitting idly but engaged in artistic endeavour. Helena Beatson would have been six years old when this portrait was finished. She went on to follow her aunt and become a creditable artist. The two travelled to India together in the mid-1770s where, in 1777, she met and married the Governor of Madras, Sir Charles Oakeley, at the tender age of 15.