Sir James Gray, 2nd Bt.

Object Details


Sir James Gray, 2nd Bt.


Rosalba Carriera (Italian, 1673 - 1757)




Italy, Europe (Place created)


1744 to 1745


Pastel on paper


56 × 45.8 cm (22 1/16 × 18 1/16 in.)

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Rosalba Carriera played a key role in transforming pastel painting from an amateur pastime into a serious artistic pursuit. Most of her sitters were young tourists, impatient to get back to the manifold sensual pleasures readily available in Venice.

By contrast, Sir James Gray, second Baronet (about 1708-1773) was a successful British diplomat and antiquarian living in the city. Carriera thus had the opportunity to get to know him well and study his countenance over repeated sittings, resulting in a penetrating characterization virtually unmatched in her oeuvre. Her meticulous attention to detail is evident in passages such as the strands of chestnut hair emerging from underneath Sir James's powdered wig.

Fashionable Likeness: Pastel Portraits in 18th-Century Britain (November 1, 2016 to May 7, 2017)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), November 1, 2016 to May 7, 2017

Whistler, Catherine. "Venezia e l'Inghilterra. Artisti, collezionisti e mercato dell'arte. 1700-1750." In Il collezionismo d'arte a Venezia. Il Settecento. Linda Borean, Stefania Mason, eds. (Venice: Fondazione di Venezia, with Marsilio, 2009), pp. 94-95, 218, fig. 6; pl. xv.

Jeffares, Neil. "Rosalba Carriera." In Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800, (accessed on August 14, 2010; pdf dated June 10, 2010), p. 11, ill.