John Opie frequently used Amelia as a model when he was between commissions. The most complete catalogue of his paintings remains Ada Earland’s John Opie and his Circle (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1911) which revises and extends John Jope Rogers’ Opie and His Works: Being a catalogue of 760 pictures by John Opie, R.A., preceded by a biographical sketch (London: Colnaghi, 1878). Opie was also painted in mid-life by her cousin Henry Perronet Briggs (R.A.). To date we have been able to locate only seven of her oil portraits, but we have included a list of portraits of unknown whereabouts compiled from Earland and Rogers.
by John Opie
oil on canvas, 1798
© National Portrait Gallery, London
- circa 1798 by John Opie (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)
- Provenance given on the back of the portrait: “Picture of Amelia Opie nee Alderson –by John Opie R.A. soon after they were married 1798.She gave the picture to my mother–her first cousin wife of John Vincent Thompson, Serj[ean]t at Law–she being the daughter of Mrs. Opie’s uncle Dr. John Alderson of Hull. According to the terms of my father (J.V. Thompson’s) will, all his pictures were sold at his death 1856 by Christie’s & Mansons. I (S.I. Sidgewick–their daughter) bought it at 86 guineas so that it has never been out of the family. S. Isabella Sidgewick nee Thomson J[une?] 16th 1913”
- 1798-1802, by John Opie (29.5×24 3/8)
- Description: Standing, dark dress with ruffled collar, tied under the bust; 3/4 face, gazing over left shoulder. Hair long, with curls and/or brown band. At Trerice, Cornwall.
- Probably the source for the portrait in the 1803 European Magazine engraved by Ridley after John Opie
- 1799, by John Opie (27.25×35.5)
- “A double portrait, that on the left is a full-faced bust, in white dress; that on the right a bust in profile to the left, in black dress, holding a guitar in her hand” (Rogers). Given to Mrs. Carr (daughter of Henry Perronet Briggs), by her uncle, Rev’d J. Carr, who had it from Thomas Alderson (Opie’s first cousin); prior to 1911. Currently at Trerice, in Cornwall. Reproduced in Earland.
- Rogers notes copy at Chyverton, Truro, Cornwall: that painting was purchased by LANDER GALLERY, Truro, and is currently being sought by Norwich Castle to add to their Opie collection .
- The Whitehall Evening Post of 27 April 1799 comments: “Mr. Opie’s portraits this year have such charms of grace and delicacy, added to their force and truth, as entitle him to new praise. Mrs. Twiss, in the ante-room, Mrs. Price and Mrs. Opie (who is painted in the same canvass in two points of view), are most highly finished portraits.”
- After 1800, by John Opie (Chawton House Library)
Artist: John Opie
Description: Seated, nearly full face, looking over left shoulder; hair piled high (powdered? Unfinished?) with broad blue ribbon; white dress, frilled with high neck; blue sash.
Current Owner: Chawton House, UK
Used by permission of the Chawton House Library.
It should be noted that there is some debate regarding the identification of the subject of this portrait. In further research at the Witt Library (Courtauld Institute), we found in the Witt Photographic Collection a bad photograph circa 1930s of what seems to be the same portrait–or perhaps a more finished version for which the Chawton piece is a study. Without any proof/source it is identified as Mrs. O’Neil—probably the actress and patroness of the poet Charlotte Smith and friend of Siddons. The eyes look slightly less intimidating, but the dress is identical and the three distinctive flowers on the left are the same.
- 1831 by Henry Perronet Briggs (Friends’ Library, London)
Artist: Henry Perronet Briggs
Current Owner: Friends’ Library, London, UK
Used by permission of The Library of Religious Society of Friends in Britain, Friends House, London.
A more finished version of this portrait, held in a private collection, is reproduced in Ann Farrant’s Amelia Opie: The Quaker Celebrity, and is pictured below.
Used by permission of Ann Farrant.
- 1841 by Benjamin Robert Haydon (National Portrait Gallery)
- c.1799-c.1804, by John Opie (20×15.5”)
- “Nearly full face, looking over left shoulder; very penetrating eyes; hair piled high on to of head with band of blue ribbon, parted in the middle and brought down to the corners of eyebrows, partly covering ears; dark blue dress, open in front over transparent muslin; no ornaments; dark background; age 30-35” (Earland). Bequeathed to James Parsons, by his uncle Edward Opie prior to 1911.
- 1798, by John Opie (27.25×35.5”)
- “Seen to waist, ¾ face to right, frizzed and flowing hair, in dishabille, frilled morning dress, pensive face” (Rogers). Engraved by Ridley, in an oval, for the European Magazine, 1803. Given to Mrs Carr (daughter of Henry Perronet Briggs), by her uncle, Rev’d J. Carr, who had it from Thomas Alderson (Opie’s first cousin); prior to 1878. Reproduced in Earland.
- 1798-1801, by John Opie
- “Full face; short hair under a cap; dark dress, open and frilled white at neck; to waist” (Earland). Engraved “by Mackenzie, small stipple, March 1, 1801 (pub. by Vernon & Hood)” (Earland).
- After 1805, by John Opie
- “Seen to waist, ¾ face to right, closely curled hair, frilled evening dress, triple necklace of pearls with small cross” (Earland). Engraved by “Hopwood; oval, half length, with lyre and flowers, 8 (pub. by Dean & Munday, 1817), and by R. Cooper (pub. February 1821, for “La Belle Assemblée,” No. 145, roy, 8). A close comparison of these engravings makes it almost certain that both are engraved from the same picture. In Hopwood’s the curls are more formal than in Cooper’s, but the stiffness is presumably due to the engraver, not the artist” (Earland).
- Date Unknown, by John Opie
- “Three-quarter face to right; frilled morning dress; hair elaborately dressed” (Earland). Engraved “by Hopwood, small (pub. By Matthew & Leigh, June 2, 1817” (Earland – who gives 1807, a typographical error for the entry described by Rogers; Wm. Smith’s MS. catalogue mentions an ‘oval ha. len. with “lyre, flowers, &c., 8, Mrs. Opie, engraved by Hopwood, 1817”’).