the phenomenon one only has to attend a standard auction sale of British paintings where as many as a third of the items are portraits. Moreover there are galleries devoted exclusively to portraiture in London, Edinburgh and Dublin - an indication of an enthusiasm for the subject unmatched anywhere else in the world.
This seemingly unquenchable thirst for portraits of individuals, families and friends has meant that for over four hundred years, native-born portrait artists have been joined by their foreign-born colleagues, attracted to these isles by the vast number of commissions available. Yet, ironically, most general art historical dictionaries give scant coverage to the many men and women who specialised in what is arguably the most difficult of all subject matter to paint. Attention has been focused on court painters and a favoured few, rarely if ever on the full spectrum of the profession with its wealth of talent.
This dictionary redresses the balance. Listing over 5,000 portraitists working in Britain from the early 16th to the early 20th century, it is the product of many years of intense research providing much original genealogical information never before published, and lavishly illustrated by 76 full colour and 340 black and white plates.
A substantial new title in the Antique Collectors' Club series of standard reference works, it cannot fail to be an indispensable resource for auction houses, dealers, galleries, libraries and collectors.