New Books and Additions in 2016-18

2018 New Books

There are three interesting new books on miniature portraits. One of general interest, one with a selection of informative and helpful essays, and one for the specialist.

G Engleheart Pinxit 1805: A year in the life of George Engleheart, by John Webley. 124pp. Available on Amazon.

The author has chosen an original approach to the miniaturist George Engleheart, in a manner to appeal to art historians, social historians, and any in the general public who enjoy solving a mystery. Instead of writing a book around a readily available selection of Engleheart portraits, John Webley has treated Engleheart as a "cold-case" investigation, by researching and writing on every subject painted by Engleheart in a single year, 1805. This gives a cross-section of society, granted only those who could afford the cost of an Engleheart portrait, but therefore a mix of that class; those famous in their times, and also those sitters otherwise since forgotten by history. The book covers sitters for a single year, but one could imagine the process continuing for other years, to make an interesting series.
George Engleheart was a remarkable portrait miniaturist who flourished in London from the 1770’s to 1820’s. He trained as a pupil under Sir Joshua Reynolds and became miniature painter to George III, painting his portrait on over twenty occasions. His contemporaries in England were primarily Cosway, Smart, Wood and Crosse but Engleheart’s artistic output was almost certainly unrivalled. During his lifetime he painted nearly 5,000 miniatures and, for most of his active life, he meticulously recorded the names of his clients. These names were later transcribed into what is referred to as his fee book, details of which have been made available to researchers by his descendants. Who were these clients coming into his studio and what conversations might have been taking place as Engleheart painted their portraits? What stories did they have to tell? In G Engleheart Pinxit 1805 one year from Engleheart’s fee book is taken; 1805, the year of Trafalgar and a year in a period of turbulence and change in British history. The Napoleonic Wars had started in 1803, the foothold in India was expanding, trade with the East and West Indies was flourishing and fortunes were being made and lost.

The clients recorded by Engleheart in 1805 are investigated and the book brings to life what is otherwise a dry list of names. The result is a remarkable snapshot of the society of the day and an insight into the very diverse mix of Regency patronage of the arts. The clients include aristocrats, military officers, naval captains of the Royal Navy and the mercantile service of the East India Company, slave owners, bankers, industrialists, actors and merchants. Well-known names of the period feature such as Paget, Leslie, Lygon, Gosling, Hamilton, Munden, Bogle French and Maitland. The book gives a fascinating insight into life in Britain at the beginning of the 19th century and is illustrated with over 50 illustrations, nearly all in colour, and includes miniatures by Engleheart, portraits from important collections and contemporary paintings of the period relevant to the sitters being described. The primary purpose of the book is to provide a unique insight into Regency patronage but a secondary purpose is to see whether analysis of this kind can also be used to identify unidentified sitters. The vast majority of miniatures that come to market have sadly lost the identity of the men or women who proudly sat for their portraits to be painted.

This book shows how, with the vastly increased resources now available through the internet, it is possible to increase the chances of these sitters being identified or, at least, to considerably narrow the list of possible candidates. Who is the sitter on the cover of the book? Based on the analysis carried out a conclusion is reached.

Portrait Miniatures: Artists, Functions and Collections, Volume 2, edited by Bernd Pappe and Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten. 256pp. Available on Amazon.
[Volume I was, European Portrait Miniatures: Artists, Functions and Collections, edited by Bernd Pappe, Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten, and Gerrit Walczak.]

This is Volume II in series issued by the Tansey Collection, which includes a series of essays by specialists on the subject. Portrait miniatures are hardly ever the subject of art history conferences. For this reason, and because miniature painting is far more than simply painting in the smallest format, the Tansey Miniatures Foundation devoted a further symposium to this subject in 2016. The results are documented in this volume.

A total of 21 authors throw light on miniature painting from the most varied angles. The public and private uses of miniature portraits are discussed, the work of individual miniaturists is described, virtually unknown collections are presented, and special painting techniques are explained. The essays provide valuable insights into the complex and multi-faceted world of miniature painting.

Geliebte Porträts: Bildnisminiaturen im Münchener Residenzmuseum, by Bern Pappe, 238pp. Published by Schnell &Steiner. [Beloved portraits: portrait miniatures in the Munich Residenz Museum.]

Miniatures were usually carried by people, framed as a locket, medallion, or as a piece of jewelery, hanging on the wall as a picture gallery at home, or given away by the rulers to assure the recipient of their loyalty. Miniatures, especially portraits, were popular images for centuries. This book features a collection of portrait miniatures from the 16th to 19th centuries of particularly high quality. The largest part comes from the collection of the art-loving couple Klaus and Helga Nottbohm. Represented are, for example, members of the families of Bavarian regents, but also other European rulers from the time of absolutism. Some miniatures show ladies portraying themselves as ancient goddesses or heroines to highlight certain positive qualities. For example, Anna Maria Luisa de 'Medici was twice painted as a goddess Minerva. In the present catalogue, every miniature is presented in detail in words and pictures, the subjects are presented and the artists are illuminated. Comparative illustrations show miniatures or large-format paintings as role models and illustrate the art-historical context.

Although the book is primarily written for German scholars, the beautiful images can be appreciated by those, such as myself, who cannot read German. The images are also helpful in making attributions of other unsigned works. For the museum, see,  Bavarian Palace Department | Munich Residence | Residence ...

2017 New Books

The Tansey Collection -A New Book
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
Unknown - Portrait of Lady 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. 
ds 1509

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
In 1772 was read in the House of Commons of the Kingdom of Ireland,  "A Bill intitled an Act for ratifying and confirming certain Leases for Lives, renewable for ever, of certain Grounds in and adjoining to Dominick-street, in the City of Dublin, made by the Right Honourable Usher Lord St George, Baron of Hatley St George, and Elizabeth Lady St George, his Wife, against them, and against the Issue of their Bodies, and all Person or Persons claiming, or to claim under the Settlement made upon their Intermarriage, was presented to the House and read the first Time, and ordered to be read a second Time Tomorrow Morning."

 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.

Unknown American Lady.
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.
ds 1511 

Man in blue coat by George Engleheart
George Engleheart - portrait of an unknown man
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
Samuel Percy - portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh
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
Henry Bone - 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
Christian Friedrich Zincke - portrait of a young man
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


Anonymous said...

I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this
post was great. I do not know who you are but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Great informative posts! I have acquired three miniatures, Louis xv1, Marie Antoinette and the dauphin for the princely sum of $5! Looking at them through a loupe and from you're descriptions, they appear to be in the 19th century to early 20th century 'fake' bracket. Is there any possibility you could confirm this if I were to send some pictures and describe them in greater detail to you?
Thank you again for your post, more informative than most.
Jean, Auckland.

Don Shelton said...

Yes, if you send the images I am happy to comment.

Don Shelton said...

You need to click on my profile for my email address.