It was a delight to come across some information about Charlotte Grace Cowell, grand-daughter of William Ince, who was a miniaturist painter. She was born on the 13th October 1811, daughter of George Cowell and Isabella Ince, who had married in St Mary’s Hornsey in 1795 when William Ince was Church Warden. Charlotte was the youngest of their six children.
In 1834-1835 she won the Silver Isis medal for an original miniature from the Royal Society of Arts. She exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1851, two portraits being listed against her name; the late Levi Ames, Esq. and the daughter of J.O.Hanson, Esq. She was described as Cowell Miss Grace Charlotte (afterwards Mrs F. Dixon) miniature painter of 12 Upper Gloucester Street. She married Frederick Henry Dixon on 11th October 1851, two days short of her 40th birthday, at St Martin’s in the Fields. Frederick was also a portrait painter.
According to The Dictionary of British Women Artists[i] she was active between 1851 and 1875 having been instructed by Frederick Crucikshank a portrait painter and miniaturist and François Théodore Rochard (French, 1798-1858) who also produced portrait miniatures and watercolours.
Bonhams sold a painting of hers in 2003. It was described as A bearded and bespectacled Gentleman, wearing black coat over white shirt and blue cravat signed on obverse and dated G Dixon 1873, and on the reverse, Mrs. F. Dixon/ Miniature Painter/ 1873, fitted red leather case Oval, 108mm. (4 1/4ins.) high
Another surviving painting is a miniature portrait described as Oil on Ivory Portrait of a Toddler Holding a Rose, unsigned, but by Charlotte Dixon. On the obverse it is inscribed by Cowell Writing Painter Gilder No.16 Little New Street Shoe Lane Fleet Street
According to the Dictionary of British Women Artists, Grace Cowell visited Paris, but travelled mostly around Britain, producing portraits in miniature, and large portrait heads in black and white chalk. Her portraits apparently included such subjects as the Madonna, Caesar Borgia and Richard Bethel, the Lord Chancellor.
It was interesting to see in the 1841 census that her older unmarried sister was with their parents in Devon, but Grace is not there. She may have been out of the country as I cannot find her. It seems likely that her father gave her financial support; he was a wealthy city merchant. In his will, proved in 1846, he left everything to his wife, Isabella, to be divided between the children on her death ((apart from daughter Isabella who had received financial support on her marriage). Their mother died in the summer of 1852, so Grace would probably have been able to support herself and her painter husband. I have not yet found any surviving work by him.
[i] Gray, Sara, The Dictionary of British Women Artists Lutterworth Press, 2009
Sarah Ingle is the great great great great grand-daughter of William Ince and has been researching her family history for a number of years. She thoroughly enjoyed the detective work involved in tracing William’s lineage.