John Downman

Miss Jackson


Not on display

John Downman 1750–1824
Oil paint on copper
Support: 229 × 190 mm
displayed: 340 × 302 × 50 mm
Bequeathed by Alan Evans 1974

Catalogue entry

T01885 Miss Jackson 1778

Inscribed: 'J. Downman Pinx1778' b.r. Oil on copper, oval, 9 1/16 x 7 ½ (23X 19)

Bequeathed by Alan Evans to the National Gallery and transferred to the Tate Gallery 1974

OJII: ...; Alan Evans

Lit: G. C. Williamson, John Downman ARA, 1907, pp.22, 23; J. Greig (ed.), The Farington Diary, IV, 1924, p.145, VI, 1926,pp.167, 193

The sitter holds a musical score and points to a part marked' Affettado', but it is not possible to read the music. The title 'Miss Jackson' is traditional, but she could represent the only daughter (her christian name is not known) of the composer and organist William Jackson (1730-1803) of Exeter. Downman married her sometime around or before 1807 (Farington Diary, IV, p.145) when, if contemporary gossip is to be believed, she was 'the ugliest and most forbidding woman in the world' (idem. VI, p.167) and not expected to live for more than a year. It is said that his hopes of inheriting her fortune were dashed when she left it to her half-brother.

If this identification is correct, then a drawing inscribed 'Mother Eliz. Downman' in the British Museum could be of the same sitter at a later date (repr. Williamson, 1907, p1.60).

A number of portraits of the Jackson family by Downman are known (a mezzotint of William Jackson holding a music book,' Which compositionally could be after a pendant to T01885, was published by Downman in 1785), and his List of Portraits (Williamson 1907, p.53) shows that he was working in Exeter in 1778.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1974-6: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1978

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