Douglas, William - portrait of his wife

This miniature portrait, together with the previous nude and the various Douglas portraits were all acquired at auction. They were offered at auction on three different occasions by different branches of descendants of William Douglas (1780-1832) who had lived in Edinburgh, Scotland.

William Douglas married Charlotte Grieve on 7 Aug 1805. He held an appointment as Miniature Painter for Scotland to HRH Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who was the husband of Princess Charlotte, Princess of Wales.

Apart from the nude, the miniatures are all believed to be family members, although in some cases, it is not clear exactly which family members they are.

Although not shown on this website, the collection includes a sketch book belonging to William Douglas, a watercolour of an early 19C bridge over the Forth river, and another portrait.

William Douglas had three daughters, Archibald (sic) Ramsay (1807-1886), Charlotte (1810- 1853) who married William Stuart and emigrated to New Zealand, and Christina (1815-1821) who died young. He also had a son Robert Duncan Douglas. The literature sometimes records his as only having two daughters and a son, but this may be because Christina died young.

Miss Archibald Ramsay Douglas (1807-25 Dec 1886) was a miniature painter in her own right and exhibited at the RA 1834-1841. For the 1851 census, Archibald aged 43, was living at 13 Hart Street, Edinburgh, with her mother Charlotte Douglas aged 66, her sister Charlotte Stuart aged 40, and what is presumably her nephew Charles aged 19, although one reference has transcribed the name as Charlotte Douglas aged 19. In 1861 Archibald and her mother lived in the house, but by the 1871 census, her mother had died. Archibald was there again in 1881, although one reference has wrongly transcribed her age as 23, instead of 73 and her gender as male instead of female.

Based upon stylistic differences and costume dates, it is believed that this group of Douglas portraits includes examples by both William Douglas and Archibald Ramsay Douglas. The literature shows that he died in 1832 and if this is correct, some of the items must be by his daughter, especially where the costumes and hairstyles appear to be after 1832.

Claudia Hill, a well respected dealer in miniature portraits has kindly agreed to allow the display here for comparative purposes, of a signed miniature by Miss Archibald Douglas. Claudia has also commented that "William’s work tends to show warm browns, yellows and reds whereas Miss Archibald’s work favours harsher pinks and pale flesh tones. William also uses a lot of small stipple strokes whereas Archibald’s work is smoother in comparison". For Claudia's current offerings see Portrait Miniatures of Claudia Hill

Based upon the example shown here and Claudia's helpful comments, an attempt has been made to attribute this miniature and the following miniatures between William Douglas and Archibald Ramsay Douglas.

Stylistically this lady with the hat is thought to be by a portrait of his wife by William Douglas, although it is a little hard to tell which year the hairstyle relates to. If 1830, it is could be his wife Charlotte Grieve who was born in 1782. If 1845, it would need to be painted by Archibald Ramsay Douglas, but then the sitter appears too young to represent her mother. If 1845, it may be another portrait of her sister Charlotte. 3