Isaac Gosset 1713-1799
- General Conway (National Portrait Gallery), George III as Prince of Wales from the Royal Collection, George III, GeorgeI Wedgewood cameo, The Earl of Chatham
Jersey-born Isaac Gosset was the son of Huguenot refugees who became an accomplished artist, including Royalty and gentry among his subjects.
In many ways his career followed a similar path to that of Jersey-born artist John Helier Lander, but Gosset's subjects were George I, II and III and the queens, princes and aristocracy of the mid 18th century, whereas Lander worked some 200 years later with George V, George VI and the generals of the First World War.
Whereas Lander was a conventional portraitist, Isaac Gosset worked mainly with wax miniatures, having been introduced to the skills by his uncle Matthew, who was already an accomplished wax portraitist in London, although his nephew was to become more accomplished and famous.
In 16th century France party leaders were outlawed and stripped of their honors and offices, including titles of nobility. In 1555 the Gossets, leaders in the movement, were denied their rank of nobility. In 1685 their estates at St Sauveur were confiscated by the government and Jean Gosset, a Huguenot, fled from Normandy and took refuge in Jersey.
The French Government offered to restore the Gosset estates, in about 1846, to the descendants of Jean Gosset, but Matthew Gosset, Viscount of Jersey, then the head of the family, refused to pursue the claim.
In Jersey, Jean Gosset and his family lived in Bagot Manor, where the family stayed for many years. Gossets are buried in the churchyard of St Saviour.
Isaac became a wax modeller and frame maker. He went to London to serve an apprenticeship with his uncle Matthew, a sculptor and wax modeller. He began by learning the craft of frame carving and continued to accept framing commissions in later life if the work was prestigious and profitable enough. He supplied frames to William Hogarth and Thomas Gainsborough, and the latter painted Gosset's portrait. Gosset is chiefly remembered, however, for the wax cameo portraits that he produced for the adornment of gentlemen's cabinets.
He discovered a secret process by which he tinted his wax to look like old ivory. Portraits of George II and III, Queen Charlotte, Frederick Prince of Wales and General Wolfe, who led the attack on Quebec in 1759 are among those which survive. The National Portrait Gallery has a medallion of General Conway, who was Governor of Jersey from 1772 and 1781 and there are eight of his portraits in the library of Windsor Castle. A printing plate for a banknote designed by Gosset is held by the British Museum. He was also commissioned by Wedgewood to produce originals for their Jasperware, but can only be associated definitely with a few works, among them a cameo of George I, which is in the Fitzwilliam Museum.
He had five children, and the elder son, Isaac, was a book collector in London, whose collection was sold at Sotheby's over three weeks after his death in 1812.