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Charles Jagger of Bath (1770–1827)
Sir William Holburne
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William Holburne (1793–1874) looks out at us with a challenging stare, dramatically set against a dark, plain background. His body is slightly turned away from us, and his thoughts are difficult to read: is he pleased that we are looking at him?

William Holburne has taken care with his fashionably tailored coat and dramatic black cravat: he could afford well cut clothes. At this point in his life he was thirty-four years old, and had been 5th Baronet of Holburne of Menstrie for seven years, with the wealth to travel on the Grand Tour in 1824 – 5 through Italy, Germany and the Low Countries. He was to go on to collect compulsively, creating a spectacular collection of fine and decorative art, all stuffed into a tall Georgian house in Bath. Much of it was elaborately decorated and colourful, dating from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

The restrained style of William’s clothes directs us to his pale face and lively curling hair, which are the liveliest parts of the miniature. A pencil drawing of him made three years earlier in Italy shows the same springy curls. Though the colours are muted and there is little decoration, a label on the back in William’s writing tells us that this miniature cost thirty guineas ~ a high price for a provincial miniaturist.

What does this portrait tell us about William’s place in society? Does he want to stand out from the crowd?

Charles Jagger (1770–1827) was a Bath artist, with a particular reputation for catching the personality and likeness of his sitters. He lived in Bath at Green Street in 1809 and then at Milsom Street (1811-21), both at the heart of Bath’s fashionable shopping. This was one of his last works and would have been quite expensive for a provincial miniaturist, suggesting that Jagger was highly regarded, It is typical of his work, combining hatching and stippling in the background.

This is a really important piece in the Holburne Collection; an image of the person who created the collection in his prime, when his fascination with collecting was growing and developing.

Charles Jagger of Bath (1770–1827)   Sir William Holburne  1827
Materials and technique: watercolour on ivory
Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.75 cm
Holburne Museum: M 102
Types of Painting
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