THE MASQUERIER COLLECTION
John James Masquerier (1778-1855)
Pencil & watercolour sketches (40)
We have discovered a hitherto unknown and historically interesting collection of pencil drawings, watercolours and ink sketches by John James Masquerier, a London-born society portraitist of Huguenot extraction, who had the rare distinction of having studied in Paris under Vernet and at the Royal Academy school, where he fled to escape the political upheavals in France.
Masquerier, who won distinctions for his academic drawing, subsequently maintained a thriving practice on both sides of the Channel, having as his sitters, subjects as various and distinguished as Napoleon, Robert Southey, Alexander Pope, Samuel Wesley, J.M.W Turner and Michael Faraday. One writer described him as having painted “the entire Dictionary of National Biography for the Regency and Pre-Regency periods”.
Unusually for a portraitist in pastels and oils, Masquerier continued to sketch in a wide variety of media, evidently for his own amusement, as well as in preparation for his portraiture. Some of the subjects in our collection are well known: Samuel Wesley, Lady Hamilton, Lord Egremont, but many are simply tender little vignettes of the wives and daughters of family friends, political caricatures or sketches of characters that Masquerier encountered in the streets of London and Brighton.
Taken together, they represent an enticing window into the time of the Napoleonic Wars, Jane Austen and the Romantic poets. The works have been photographed by the National Portrait Gallery (which holds 21 works by Masquerier) and are held as reference material in their archive.
The material from the collection is currently being conserved but will be available for view later this year. A selection of the sketches can be seen below
Burdett Coutts collection