By George Beare
Miss Fort is shown holding a sprig of jasmine which may suggest she was painted on the occasion of her marriage. Little is known about her although it is thought she may have been born in the early 1700s. The Fort family were associated with Alderbury House, an estate of 300 acres just outside of Salisbury, from 17th to the mid-19th century. It was acquired by them through marriage in 1620. Later, surrounding land was bought up by George Fort (1715-1790). His son, George Yalden Fort (1754-1807) was High Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1800. It is thought he was responsible for building the present day Alderbury House in the 1790s.
Beare worked in Salisbury from approximately 1740-50. George Beare signed the painting on the right hand side about a third of the way up. It is wrongly labelled on the frame as 1749. His general compositions and handling of paint seem fairly typical of the time. His personal touch is in the presentation of his sitter – personal, intimate and simple with an earthy palette brightened by flashes of bold colour.
Acquired with the financial assistance of the V&A Purchase Grant Fund and The National Art Collections Fund.