Another snapshot from James Gillray’s personal papers. This portrait of rather sad looking old lady, dressed in a lace bonnet and collar, was hastily sketched onto a page torn from a legal transcript. Her identity is a complete mystery – was it someone Gillray knew, even his elderly mother perhaps? Or, given the choice of paper and the fact that we know Gillray was occasionally dispatched to the courts to obtain portraits of notable criminals, perhaps it was just a face in the courtroom that briefly captured his attention?
We’ll never know of course, but I think it’s quite nice to think that an otherwise fleeting moment in this woman’s existence has been inadvertently captured for posterity in this way.