Joshua Reynolds, in 1775, received a commission to paint the portrait of Miss Janes Bowles. She was the eldest daughter of Oldfield Bowles. The Bowles were looking to have a picture of their daughter painted. They were persuaded to consider Joshua Reynolds for the commission. Before making a decision, the Bowles invited Reynolds to dinner to meet their daughter, Jane to see how they got on together. The child, who was three or four years old at the time, found Reynold’s stories and tricks fascinating. The result was that Miss Bowles was excited to sit for Joshua Reynolds at his house.
Reynolds successfully depicts the natural pose of Jane Bowles as she plays with her pet spaniel. The child is wearing a theatrical like costume, as she kneels holding on to the dog tightly. Although the dog appears, nearly choked, it yields to the impulsive child. The picture’s background is representative of a woodland setting. Reynolds uses firm bold strokes of paint to depict a beam of sunlight, shining through the foliage on the right. The child’s energy and enthusiasm are clear to see from the expression on her face, which Reynold manages to capture with ease.
The portrait of the child, Jane Bowles, has the title ‘Miss Bowles. It is an oil on canvass painting that measures 91cm x 71cm. Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, bought the painting in 1850. On his death, he left the picture to his illegitimate son, Sir Richard Wallace. In 1897, his widow gave the painting, along with an extensive collection of other artworks to the nation. Miss Bowles is now part of the Wallace Collection located in Hertford House, London. Examination of the picture shows that although painted in 1775, minor changes were made to it probably up until sometime in 1776. Despite this, the child’s joy is clear to see in the painting. Many consider ‘Miss Bowles’ to be the best-preserved of all of Reynold’s works.