T04238 A Couple Dressed in the Height of Fashion
Bodycolour over pencil on wove paper 202 × 266 (7 15/16 × 10 1/2)
Inscribed ‘1744’ in ink t.r.
Lit: Beard 1934, vol.93, p.292, fig.VI; Lewis 1975, II, p.656, no.48 (as by Highmore); Louise and Ivison Wheatley, The Language of the Fan, York 1989, p.25, repr. (col.)
This elegant caricature exaggerates the fashionable dress of 1744, making particular play with the improbable length of the gentleman's sword, the lady's outsize Chinese fan, and the vast dimensions of her hooped skirt, which are echoed by the fullness of her companion's coat. The figures are very like several paper cut-out dolls in the collection which are clearly attibutable to Highmore's daughter Susanna, but seem more confidently drawn. It is possible that Highmore drew this sheet as a model for his daughter to follow; on the other hand, one should not underestimate the fact that Susanna, who would have been nineteen in 1744, became a very competent professional artist in her own right.
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996