William DICKINSON after Sir Joshua Reynolds
Elizabeth, Countess of Derby
15 x 25 inches
A full-length mezzotint portrait of the countess engraved by William Dickinson after the portrait by Joshua Reynolds and published in London in 1780.
The Countess of Derby was born in 1753, the only daughter of James, 6th Duke of Hamilton and the beautiful Elizabeth Gunning. In 1774 she married Lord Stanley who later became Edward, the 12th Earl of Derby. She left her husband and afterwards had a son by the 3rd Duke of Dorset. As a consequence Lord Derby destroyed the portrait by Reynolds. She died in London in 1797. William Dickinson was born in London in 1746 and was awarded a premium at the Society of Arts in 1767, by which time he had begun engraving in mezzotint. His early work comprised mostly caricatures and portraits after R. Pine and was published by Carrington Bowles. By 1773 he had moved to Litchfield Street in Soho and was publishing his own work. By the late 1770’s he was working from an address in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden and it was from here that he produced mezzotints that rank amongst the finest ever produced, after artists such as Reynolds, Romney and Peters. In 1778 he embarked upon a partnership with Thomas Watson and moved to New Bond Street where he continued to produce the finest work and also developed into stipple engraving that was becoming fashionable at the time. After the death of Watson, Dickinson appears to have concentrated on printselling and he eventually emigrated to Paris where he died in 1823.