John Hamilton Mortimer (1740 - 1779)

Cupid Sold

Pen and black ink and a reddish wash.
Laid down on a late 18th or 19th century mount.
Inscribed Mortimer and John Hamilton Mortimer [partially cut off] on the mount.
163 x 148 mm. (6 3/8 x 5 3/4 in.)


Mortimer was recognized by his contemporaries as a highly inventive and original artistic talent. His work was strongly influenced by the example of such Italian artists as the Carracci, Guercino, Giambattista Piazzetta and, in particular, Salvator Rosa. (Indeed, he was sometimes known as ‘the English Salvator’.) He was especialy admired as a draughtsman, and several of his numerous drawings - after Shakesperean subjects or other literary themes, as well as more fantastical themes - were reproduced as engravings and etchings. His close friend, the architect James Gandon, recalled of Mortimer that ‘the rapidity of his execution was astonishing, and his powers of drawing superior to anything produced by his contemporaries.’

Such appreciation of Mortimer’s talent as a draughtsman has continued to the present day. As one modern scholar has noted, ‘From all accounts Mortimer possessed prodigious facility. Those sheets we now prize so highly were thrown off in a few minutes, and soon littered the studio. Hundreds have been lost, and this is why, among those that happen to survive, it is so seldom possible to connect one with another.’ More recently, John Sunderland has written that ‘Mortimer’s pen-and-ink drawing style, with its use of hatching and dotting, is so peculiar to his work that it can be seen as one of his most significant contributions to the art of the 1770s.’

Galerie Barbazanges, Paris, in 1919.

John Hamilton MORTIMER



  • Name: *
  • E-mail: *
  • Phone:
  • Comment: