Recently published is another excellent book with a dual commentary in German and English, edited by Bernd Pappe and titled, Miniaturen der Barockzeit aus der Sammlung Tansey or Miniatures from the Baroque Period in the Tansy Collection, Munich, Albert Hirmer, 2016, 395pp.
This is the sixth book in a series documenting the Tansey Collection as assembled by the German-American couple, Lieselotte and Ernest Tansey. They formed the basis of their collection almost fifty years ago. It grew into one of the world's largest and most significant collections of this art form. In 2016 the collection was generously donated to The Tansy Miniatures Foundation. Sadly Lieselotte died in June 2016 but she is remembered via the collection, which is available to view by the public and celebrated in descriptive works such as this.
This volume depicts 120 miniatures, representing examples from the Baroque period, each with a colour image and description in German and English. For those seeking a copy is available at Miniaturen des Barock aus der Sammlung Tansey | Hirmer Verlag
Artists and Ancestors Collection
In view of the outstanding quality of the Tansey Collection, it is a little disconcerting to discuss recent additions to this collection on the same page. However, it is necessary to keep a record and demonstrate that interesting miniatures can still be acquired for private collections at relatively modest cost.
Due to the time pressures of my major research project, The Lost Works of Tobias Smollett, see, The Lost Works of Tobias Smollett and the War of the Satirists miniature portraits have tended to take a back seat with very few additions in 2016-17. However, for the record they include.
|Lady Elizabeth St George|
The artist who painted this late 18C miniature portrait is unknown, but it is of typical "modest school" size. It may be by an Irish artist. The miniature is inscribed on the reverse:
"Lady St George - Widow of Usher, last Lord St George of Hatley - She was Miss Dominick cousin to Mr Gale; left a daughter and sole heiress, Olivia, Duchess of Leinster."
That has enabled a more precise identification of the sitter as, Elizabeth Dominick (c1732-1813), daughter of Sir Christopher Dominick (died 1743), a wealthy Dublin doctor who began the laying out of Dominick Street in Dublin. On her marriage she became Elizabeth Usher St. George, i.e. Lady St George as depicted here, and she died aged 18 on February 26, 1813.
Her husband was St George St George, 1st Baron St George (circa 1715 – 2 January 1775), who was an Irish politician. Born St George Ussher, he was the son of John Ussher by his wife Mary St George, daughter of George St George, 1st Baron St George.
He succeeded his father as Member of Parliament for Carrick in the Irish House of Commons from 1741 until he was raised to the Irish House of Lords.
He was created Baron St George of Hatley St George, in the Peerage of Ireland, on 19 April 1763; this was a revival of the title held by his grandfather.
He died without surviving male issue, so the title became extinct.
|Emilia, Duchess of Leinster|
Their daughter Emilia Olivia FitzGerald (c1755-1798), as indicated in the inscription, later married William FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster, and had several children.
Somewhat sadly, Emilia, Duchess of Leinster, predeceased her mother, Lady St George, by fifteen years. However, it was nice to be able to locate a portrait of Emilia and "reunite" mother and daughter here.
Although not a fine portrait, this American miniature is signed BHG 1901 or BHC 1901 and a good example of the period.
To date it has not been possible to identify the artist, but the miniature was purchased at auction at a moderate cost, being described as:
"This is a very fine watercolor miniature portrait of an older lady, probably English, on some kind of organic material. The painting is signed " BH. G." and dated 1901. It is completely sealed in a heavy white metal frame and a protective concave glass. The painting seems to be in perfect condition as it has been very tightly sealed inside the frame and behind the display glass."
A bonus on arrival was the discovery the case was sterling silver.
|Man in blue coat by George Engleheart|
This miniature portrait was described at auction only as:
"A superb portrait of a gentleman wearing a blue coat, a white stock, and a grey powered wig. Framed in a 20C gilt frame."
However, from images accompanying the listing, the portrait appeared to be by the important artist, George Engleheart (1750/5-1829) and this attribution was confirmed on arrival. It is modest sized and dates to around 1780-90.
Engleheart did sign his later works with a distinctive "E", but it is easy for his earlier works to slip though auction houses without being recognised, and be acquired for a very modest hammer price, as was the case here. ds 1513.
|Sir Walter Raleigh by Samuel Percy|
This wax miniature had a full description at auction as being Sir Walter Raleigh, the famous Elizabethan, but there was no comment about the artist.
However, although unsigned it is believed to be by the prominent wax miniaturist, Samuel Percy (1750-1820) the style being very similar to his other works. Up to 1786 he had made 800 portraits, but he continued to make and exhibit wax miniatures after that date.
E J Pyke records there is a wax miniature by Samuel Percy of Sir Walter Raleigh in the collection at Windsor Castle, but it is not known whether it is similar to this version. ds 1514
|Jacob Interpreting the Baker's Dream|
Although not strictly a miniature portrait, this miniature in enamel was purchased at a local auction. It is painted by the important artist, Henry Bone (1755-1834). It is 195mm x 210mm so is large for an enamel miniature- apologies for the poor reproduction - the actual work is very well painted.
On the reverse it is inscribed
"Painted for the Duke of Bedford by Henry Bone R.A., Enamel Painter in Ordinary to His Majesty and Enamel Painter to H.R.H the Prince Regent, after the original picture in the Collection of his Grace at Woburn Abbey".
In contacting the picture curator at Woburn Abbey it was established that the original is no longer in the Woburn collection, having been sold in the early 1950's. However Woburn Abbey has retained another enamel version by Henry Bone, but on a smaller scale than this example.
The location of the original oil is currently unknown. During the 19C the original oil was attributed to Rembrandt, but that is now discounted.
An interesting comparison is with the original squared drawing by Henry Bone, which is held in the National Portrait Gallery in London. That gives a good idea of how a miniature was copied from a large sized portrait. ds 1515
|Young Man by Christian Friedrich Zincke|
On a completely different scale is this miniature portrait in enamel. At a local auction it was described as:
"Lot 310 - A 19thC finely enamelled porcelain, gold framed portrait miniature, the plain gold frame testing as 18ct. or higher, the portrait miniature of a gent wearing a blue jacket, glazed. 40mm x 35mm. Est. $180."
The auction estimate was very low, far below even the intrinsic value of the gold. However, before the auction it was realised the auction description was deficient in other, more important, respects and it was fortunately able to be acquired for roughly the intrinsic value of the gold.
A better description would have been;
"A fine early 18C portrait miniature in enamel, from approximately 1730, by the important and prolific artist, Christian Friedrich Zincke (1683/4-1767), who was born in Dresden, but moved to England in 1706 and studied under Charles Boit (1662-1727). The plain gold frame testing as 18ct. or higher, and the miniature glazed. The unknown sitter is wearing a blue jacket and green cap, of a style popular around 1730 with artists and writers. 40mm x 35mm." ds 1517