The profile relief, in pale pink wax on black glass of Lord nelson is shown facing to the left. He is shown wearing naval uniform with epaulettes, insignia and medal and a long wig, tied at the back of his neck with a ribbon.
This small wax portrait of the naval hero Admiral Lord Nelson (1758-1805) was modelled from the life in 1802. The likeness was much admired, and was later used as the basis for the portrait by Conrad Heinrich Küchler in his design for the obverse of the Trafalgar medal, produced by Matthew Boulton. A contemporary wrote to Boulton in 1806, reporting a conversation with Lady Hamilton, Nelson's mistress, in which 'she shewed me the inclosed Wax Profile which She declares is the most striking likeness that has been taken, & much more so than our little drawing or print by Mr Da Costa. On asking Lady H: in what features the model so closely resembled Lord Nelson as she had declared; she said, in the direction & form of the nose, mouth and chin, that the general carriage of the body was exactly his, and that altogether the likeness was so great it was impossible for anybody who had known him to doubt about or mistake it.'
Catherine Andras (1775-1860) was born in Bristol, but moved to London to work. She exhibited in the capital from 1799 onwards, and in 1802 was appointed Modeller in Wax to Queen Charlotte. In the same year she was awarded 'The Larger Silver Pallet' by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce for her model of Princess Charlotte and this one of Lord Nelson. She was active until 1855.
Materials & Making
Wax portraits were particularly popular in Britain in the second half of the 18th century. They were often modelled from the life; a mould could be made from this initial model, from which further copies could be cast. The waxes were small and portable, and the nature of the material meant that they were extremely naturalistic. Sometimes they were coloured, and extra items added, such as textiles, seed pearls or coloured glass, to increase the life-like appearance of the portrayal.