Edward Heath Rodd, England. Around 1879
Upper body studio portrait photograph of Edward Hearle Rodd (1810-1880), seated and reading a book. Rodd was born in St Just in Roseland, and, after qualifying as a solicitor, settled in Penzance. He was a keen ornithologist and wrote a large number of papers for The Zoologist and the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall. He is credited with rescuing many rare birds in Cornwall from oblivion and adding several bird species to the List of British Birds. Photographer: Unknown.
© From the collection of the RIC
Dummy Board of a Girl in Costume of the William and Mary Period
Wooden painted screen dating from around 1689-1702. Dummy boards were usually placed in empty spaces, such as a staircase or empty fireplace, in large houses. They may have been amusement pieces, created to trick the eye into thinking the painted boards were real people. This kind of painting, known as trompe l'oeil, was very popular at the time. The girl is pictured wearing fashion typical of the period including a long gown with sleeves to the elbow to show an under-sleeve of white lace and a black silk pinner (apron). Her hair is worn high with a frontage headdress. She is carrying a spaniel on one arm and holding a black mask in her other hand. These masks were sometimes worn by women when walking or riding outdoors to protect the face from sunburn. During this period it was fashionable to have pale skin.
© RIC, photographer Mike Searle
John Vivian of Pencalenick, John Opie (1761-1807)
Oil on canvas, English School, around 1780. A portrait of a young John Vivian of Pencalenick (1772-1817). Vivian later became a Barrister and was High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1812. John Opie was born in Harmony Cottage, Trevellas, between St Agnes and Perranporth in Cornwall. He was the youngest of the five children of Edward Opie, a master carpenter, and his wife Mary (nee Tonkin). He showed a precocious talent for drawing and mathematics, and by the age of twelve he had mastered the teachings of Greek mathematician Euclid and opened an evening school for poor children where he taught reading, writing and arithmetic. His father, however, did not encourage his abilities, and apprenticed him to his own trade of carpentry. Opie's artistic abilities eventually came to the attention of local physician and satirist, Dr John Wolcot (who used the pen name Peter Pindar), who visited him at the sawmill where he was working in 1775. Recognising a great talent, Wolcot became Opie's mentor, buying him out of his apprenticeship and insisting that he come to live at his home in Truro. Wolcot provided invaluable encouragement, advice, tuition and practical help in the advancement of his early career, including obtaining many commissions for work. In 1781, having gained considerable experience as a portraitist travelling around Cornwall, Opie moved to London with Wolcot. There they lived together, having entered into a formal profit-sharing agreement. Although Opie had received a considerable artistic education from Wolcot, the doctor chose to present him as a self-taught prodigy; a portrait of a boy shown at the Society of Artists the previous year, had been described in the catalogue as "an instance of Genius, not having ever seen a picture." Wolcot introduced the "Cornish wonder" to leading artists, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was to compare him to Caravaggio and Velazquez.