April 2012 - Discussing Joseph Wood

The recent acquisition of an attractive miniature of a naval officer, see View has been an interesting exercise and led to the decision to write the following brief paper to try to add, and share, knowledge about a little researched artist. In the early years of the 19C, the American miniature painter Joseph Wood (1778-1830) was a talented artist working in New York, with Mary Way, herself an accomplished artist writing in 1811; "...Wood, who from what I had heard and seen, I considered the only painter here worth notice." However, there does not appear to have been a careful analysis of the quite numerous miniature portraits attributed to him. 

The following study suggests some of these are incorrect attributions. The paper attempts to provide a source for more readily identifying the work of Wood, with input or comment from scholars of American miniatures welcomed. In attempting that process, it has been necessary to cast doubt on a number of miniatures in museum and other collections, including the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museums. It is hoped that the curators at those august institutions will not take offence at the conclusions reached here. Revisions to earlier "good faith" attributions are not intended as a criticism, but more a recognition that scholarship is greatly assisted when multiple examples in colour can be easily compared via the Internet. 

Wood was the son of a New York farmer and ran away from home at age 15 to New York City where he became apprenticed to a silversmith. He learned to paint by copying miniatures which had been left with the silversmith for mounting. In 1801 he established himself as an oil portrait and miniature painter. In 1803 he was joined in partnership by John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840) and around that time was also taught more about miniature painting by Edward Greene Malbone (1777-1807). The partnership with Jarvis had ended by 1810 and in 1811 Wood took on Nathaniel Rogers (1787-1844) as an apprentice, before moving to Philadelphia in c1813 and Washington c1816-18. During his last years he became noted for a dissolute lifestyle and undertook few commissions. From this brief outline it is clear his main output as a miniature painter was restricted to about 25 years, 1801-c1825. 

Given that Wood learned some points from Malbone after 1801, was partnered with Jarvis, and took Rogers on as an apprentice in 1811, there is reason to expect some similarities of style. Malbone is commonly accepted as the pre-eminent American miniature painter, but when one reviews his work as illustrated in The Life and Works of Edward Greene Malbone by Ruel Pardee Tolman, it is apparent that the quality of Malbone's miniatures is very variable. Viewed dispassionately, and in view of his short career, it seems his elevation has been enhanced by his American birth, his self-taught status, and the survival of his account book; with Malbone's better work being executed between his 1801 return from studying in London and his death in 1807. It also follows that, by the time of Malbone's death in 1807, Wood had developed his own style and was no longer subject to changes in that style resulting from comment from Malbone. 

With Rogers being an apprentice to Wood, it is to be expected Rogers earlier work from 1811 would be similar to that of Wood, until Wood moved to Philadelphia in 1813 when Rogers could develop his own distinctive style, which is particularly noticeable with the sitter's eyes. According to Dunlap, Rogers commenced by working on the subordinate portions of the miniatures, which after one year Wood paid liberally for. That teacher/apprentice relationship has led to mistakes in attributions as discussed below. 

The 1813 date is significant, as events associated with the War of 1812 led to a shortage of imported casework together with a decline in commissions for miniature painters generally, so Wood presumably hoped the grass would be greener in Philadelphia. A relatively large number of portraits have attributed to Wood, but some of them seem doubtful. In seeking a place to start I accessed the Smithsonian collection and immediately ran into difficulties! Two, which should be benchmark miniatures, are held in the Smithsonian Collection. See Joseph Wood The one with the darker background is of David Livingstone, 73mm x 61mm, said to be c1800, and that with the lighter background is of Master Peters, 68mm x 56mm, is said to date to 1804. They are both attributed to Joseph Wood.

I have to start by saying that I believe they are by different artists. Although the Smithsonian dates the Livingstone portrait to c1800, the foliate case dates it to c1825-1830. The styles are quite different, e.g. the noses and facial tones and colouring, and I believe the miniature of David Livingstone is in fact by Nathaniel Rogers, which also better fits the date of the case. That conclusion is reached after studying many miniatures by Rogers, including this one by Rogers which is one of nine miniatures by him in this collection, see View 

The position on the ivory, the style of the face, and the supercilious expression about the eyes are much closer to the Livingstone miniature. So how can one attribute miniatures to Joseph Wood? Although artists changed clothing, hair styles, and sometimes background colours to reflect fashion, there were certain aspects of their work that changed less often during their painting careers. These include, the position of the sitter's head on the ivory, the distance the miniature was painted from, i.e. head or bust, and artists also tended to favour sitters to more often face one way, either left or right. As indicated in the comments above, it seems Wood's style had settled by the time of Malbone's death in 1807 and there was no reason for him to significantly change that style. A question worth posing, is why Wood posed the sitter so relatively low on the ivory? The reason for this is that he was not professionally trained as a miniature painter and also painted large oil portraits where, conventionally, the sitter's head is often about one-third of the distance from the top to the bottom of the picture. Oil portraits also tend to show more of the upper body of the sitter. Hence, what Wood did, in contrast to those who painted mainly miniature portraits, was to depict the sitters in his miniatures in the pose and proportions they would have adopted in his larger oil portraits.  

One can often pick American and British miniature portraits copied from large oils, as they tend to demonstrate "oil portrait" proportions, instead of the artist modifying the portrait to fit the miniature format. 

I commented on two examples of miniatures copied from large oil portraits when discussing incorrect attributions to Walter Robertson at 2008 - Additions and Comment: The Case of Walter Robertson ... They were the two ladies showing here. The older lady is still incorrectly attributed by the Smithsonian to Walter Robertson, see Walter Robertson but cannot be by him as miniatures of this size and shape were not painted by any artists in America, or Britain for that matter, during the time Robertson spent in the United States in c1793-1797. (I need to say I also doubt two other attributions to Walter Robertson by the Smithsonian, those of Captain Joseph Anthony and portrait of a Gentleman, but will aim to discuss them in more detail on another occasion!) 

My comments also disagreed with an attribution of the younger lady, Mrs Richard Peters (Abigail Willing), to Robertson made by Dale Johnson in her Metropolitan Museum catalogue. The Metropolitan appeared to heed that challenge as in their 2010 catalogue, the attribution to Robertson was amended to an unknown artist. Another benchmark miniature for Joseph Wood is the one on the left of Commodore Perry which is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The stylistic likeness to Master Peters is far more apparent than with the Livingstone miniature. 

Yet another miniature by Wood showing here, but of an unknown sitter, was sold at auction by Bonhams in 2007. The commonality of style is now becoming apparent. Set low on the ivory, with a pale cloudy sky, posed in three-quarter profile, and with a small head relative to the ivory. Also, in contrast to the Livingstone portrait, the three following miniatures are much closer in style to the Master Peters and Perry portraits and are therefore attributed to Joseph Wood. The positions on the ivory and the cloud effects are similar. The three are all in this Artists and Ancestors collection, two being unidentified sitters and the central one being of Eleutheros Dana Comstock (1791-c1858) and likely painted for his 21st birthday in 1812. The right facing two are 78mm x 60mm, and the left facing Naval officer is 70mm x 57mm. 

Wood has posed the naval officer facing left, so that his shoulder insignia does not become the focal point of the portrait. Therefore that is a base of six miniatures with light backgrounds attributed to Joseph Wood, to compare with other miniatures said to by him. 

There is at least one other miniature in this collection which is believed to likely be by Wood. It is of an unknown lady and in size is 56mm x 47mm. Although the background is less obvious, the pose and position on the ivory is similar to that of the men. This miniature indicates one aspect where circumstances dictated a modification of Wood's style. Here the background was darkened to provide a contrast with the white dress, otherwise there would have been a overall washed out appearance to the portrait. In 2009 I noted the miniature depicted below in a "make-do" ebonised frame, was likely by Joseph Wood when it sold at auction. This is another example where Wood has used a dark background. Even though Wood has made the background made darker, which was necessary in this instance to contrast with the sitter's white hair, the facial appearance and position on the ivory correspond to the other Wood examples above. 

As an aside, in my opinion the case for this miniature, as showing here, was an important example of make-do Embargo casework, dictated by shortages of British casework supplies during the War of 1812, as has been discussed elsewhere, see Case study - The Embargo Act of 1807 and 19C miniature portrait ... Currently, I see the miniature still remains offered for sale by a well known dealer, but I believe with an erroneous attribution to Malbone, and in an inappropriate ornate replacement case, which dates to 20 years after Malbone's death and about 15 years after the miniature was painted by Wood. 

 The analysis has then arrived at eight miniature portraits with sufficient similarities that they can be attributed to Wood. One can then compare these with other miniatures said to be by Wood. Such comparisons are much harder when working with black and white images. The first place to look is in Wehle's American Miniatures 1730-1850. Plate XXXVI illustrates two black and white miniatures by Wood, of John Green Proud and of a man. They appear to fit the above criteria and there seems no reason to doubt those attributions. 

The next place to look is the Metropolitan Museum catalogue which includes ten miniatures said to be by Wood. The first Met one, Fig 184, showing here, has a darker background to contrast with the hair, is 52mm x 43mm, and bears a signature, "Jos. Wood pinx. 1805". I am a little uncertain about this one, but am prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt. Thus the attribution of this one to Wood is accepted at this stage. It is a sad commentary on American miniatures that a well known collector and dealer, Edward Grosvenor Paine (1911-1989), is known to have added signatures to miniatures he had attributed to specific artists. However, modern opinion does not always agree with Paine's attributions. Paine was not the only person who did this, others did often with good intention, but they can be misleading. Hence signed American miniature portraits need to be approached with caution with greater attention paid to the style, than to any signatures on front or the reverse.

 A recent instance showing the importance of style in attribution, was my research into a portrait of Emily Hinds by John Henry Brown, see View where the artist was initially recognised purely from the style, but then confirmed after locating a signature when the miniature arrived. The Metropolitan also has a self-portrait by Wood, Fig 187, as showing here, where the pose and background broadly match the above examples, although giving the impression the background was never properly completed. Comparison of the others attributed to Wood in the Metropolitan collection, shows that three appear demonstrably to be by another hand. They are Fig 185, Fig 189, and Fig 192 as below. They each place the sitter much higher on the ivory and are painted from a position much closer to the artist, so that the head appears much larger and less of the body is seen. The backgrounds are painted in a different style, with Fig 185 and Fig 189 having a more pointillist background, rather than the broader wash effect of the Wood portraits. 

Although the centre one, Fig 189 is claimed to be in a replacement frame, the style suggests a British origin. However, despite one of them bearing a signature, "J Wood Pinx. 1812", none of the three are believed to be by Wood. It is not the intent of this paper to categorically propose who they might be by, but more research is obviously needed. Proposing attributions for them is more difficult, but as a start point for research, it is suggested that the right hand miniature, Fig 192, is more likely by John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840) as it is very similar in style to several miniatures by Jarvis, in particular, Fig 98, Fig 99, and Fig 100, in John Wesley Jarvis by Harold Dickson.

 Other possibilities are Henry Inman (1801-1846), who was trained by Jarvis, and Daniel Dickinson (1795-1877), the younger brother of Anson Dickinson. Another perhaps doubtful attribution in the Metropolitan collection is Fig 186 of Miss Muir. A colour photo of the background may help, but in looking at her portrait it is seen that her nose is almost straight on to the viewer, whereas the other miniatures attributed to Wood show the sitter's nose in three-quarter profile. [At the risk of upsetting the Metropolitan Museum even further, I feel obliged to question whether their Fig 231, as showing here, is by Nathaniel Rogers. Of the nine miniatures by Nathaniel Rogers in this collection and the nineteen in the Metropolitan collection, a total of 28 miniatures, Fig 231 is the only one whose eyes do not look direct at the artist. For that and other reasons, I doubt Rogers was the artist.] The Metropolitan miniature, Fig 188, also raises a query. 

All of the base group of attributions to Wood as above have the sitter looking direct at the artist, whereas the gaze of Fig 188 is directed well to the left of the artist. That leaves only three further Wood attributions in the Metropolitan collection, Fig 190, Fig 191, and Fig 193 which are not shown here. Again, colour images would assist, but these three appear to fit the criteria for Wood; a small head, lowish on the ivory, and a pale background. Therefore, based upon this analysis, five of the ten miniatures depicted and attributed to Joseph Wood in the Metropolitan Museum collection have question marks raised over the earlier attributions.  

Another apparent incorrect attribution to Joseph Wood was a miniature of William Pinkney, sold by Cowan's Auctions in 2003. It was described as attributed to Wood, but to me the quality does not look good enough for his work. Based upon examples in the Metropolitan Museum, such as Fig 161 and Fig 162, and comparisons of the background colours and facial features, I am more inclined to attribute the Pinkney miniature to Raphaelle Peale (1774-1825). The impression gained from the above analysis is that there has never been a proper study of the work of Joseph Wood. Thus he has become a convenient catch-all attribution for some dealers. For example, there are a couple of miniatures currently offered for sale by dealers with attributions to Joseph Wood, but none of them fit the criteria outlined above. Hence there is little advantage to be gained by depicting them here. As indicated earlier, comments about this analysis are welcome, in particular further examples by Wood in colour which can allow an even better base for future study.  

Later: A kind visitor has sent me images of a group of family miniature portraits which have remained within their family since they were painted. It is wonderful for portraits to remain with families, and for the sitters to be known. Family tradition had been that all miniatures in the photo, excluding the oval one on the right had been painted by Nathaniel Rogers. However, after looking at the images, I believed the two in black frames were by Joseph Wood, as they closely resemble the other examples of Wood's work shown above. I mentioned this to the owner and observed that confusion between Wood and Rogers was not surprising, because as Dale Johnson has observed, Rogers was apprenticed to Wood from 1811. Dale further commented, "Rogers progressed rapidly and in a short time was painting the secondary areas of miniatures, principally the clothing and background."

The owner of these miniatures then checked the family records and found that the two in black frames were painted in 1810, i.e. before Rogers became an apprentice to Wood. In this instance it is unsurprising that family tradition had attributed all the miniatures to Rogers. The existence of this group of dated and identified miniatures still owned by one family is thus very important evidence supporting the conclusions about style in the above discussion of the work of Joseph Wood. Also showing here is an image of a miniature sent to me by another kind collector of American miniatures who had been advised by an expert on American miniatures that it was by Joseph Wood. I agree and it is pleasing to have expert endorsement of this as a further attribution to Wood. It matches the style of the other identified examples depicted here and there seems little doubt that the examples presented here are now sufficient in number to provide a good guide for any future attributions of his work.

Welcome to a Free Art Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures

[Welcome to new followers who saw this site on Blogs of Note. I hope you find the subject fascinating. I am willing to answer questions about miniatures and I get several questions each week. Click on my profile for the address. Questions are often from people who have portraits of ancestors, or found a miniature in a drawer. In late 2021 I rarely add to this website, but the information remains a helpful resource for collectors.]

Thus read on, in a user friendly format, the website displays a private collection of miniature portraits. A kind visitor has emailed; "It is definitely the best online art website that I have found yet."

But before exploring, please take a few seconds to imagine yourself 200 years ago, with no computers, no television, no films, no photographs, and no color printing in magazines or newspapers. Consider how unique these miniature paintings were, in capturing likenesses we now take for granted, and think how few other delicate objects of that age have lasted so well.

The Exhibition should appeal to art lovers, family historians, and fashion historians who can study hairstyles and clothing, changing over the centuries. Increasingly, the website focuses on known sitters and represents a new view of history, by "stepping through the back of a portrait".

If necessary, please wait a minute or so for the Slideshow Previews to appear (hopefully! - some browsers may have problems) and click to start. They show examples of miniatures on the left by American artists, and on the right by British and European artists. More miniatures are included in the various Gallery Links to the right, reached by clicking on the blue hyperlinks. 

There are over 1200 miniatures in the collection from America, Britain and Europe. All being easy to view and arranged in separate Galleries. In addition, hundreds more fine miniatures in other private collections can be accessed via links on the right. The exhibition format is:

1 Introduction to Miniatures
2 Copy, Fake, and Decorative Miniatures
3 Miniatures and the Photograph
4 Focus of the Collection
5 Additions and Comment since 2009
6 Guest Gallery
7 History of the Collection
8 Highlights
9 American Galleries
10 British Galleries
11 European Galleries
12 Art Collecting Links
13 Bibliography

For more detail click on the blue links above or on the right under Gallery Links. Alternatively, use the Site Search box to search for artists, sitters, or key words. To email me with questions about miniatures, just click on my photo for a link. As a service to collectors, I do not charge for brief inquiries, but am also willing to advise collectors wishing to dispose of collections of miniatures.

The 2008 entries can be seen consecutively in 2008 Additions and Comment or items of interest can be selected below. (Research being like a detective story, the major items really do feel like cases!). Entries can also be seen, starting at 2009 Additions and Comment

The following slide-shows depicts some portraits acquired for the collection.

Some older Posts
December - Auction news - View
November - Nathaniel Rogers at auction - View 
November - Two additions - View 
October - Three additions - View 
September - Two additions - View
August - Rare wax portrait by Ethel Frances Mundy - View 
July - Rare miniature on porcelain and new information - View
July - Expanded research on recent additions - View
June - Items of interest and more on Barratt fakes - View
June - Is the case original? - View
May - Fakes and items of interest - View
April - Recent sales noted - View
March - Horace Walpole on Samuel Cooper - View
March - A new book and some modern fakes - View
March - Current news - View
February - That book again! - View
January - Mainly American miniatures - View

[- Re the Carlisle book!
For more see
The Real Mr Frankenstein

The inspiration for the biography was the purchase of a miniature portrait of Carlisle for this collection, and it is shown here on the cover. The research has been fascinating and incredible, but also sobering, as it including the uncovering of a series of murders of pregnant women by famous men midwives of the 18C. This truly is an example where truth is stranger than fiction.

The book has been published on the Internet, as freely available for private research at:

 The Real Mr Frankenstein

Old Posts
December - Some additions - View
November - A record price and a sad story - View
October - Buyer Beware - how to waste $18,000 - View
October - The Real Mr Frankenstein now published! - View
September - Modern miniatures and research - View
August - Stolen miniatures - View
August - The Real Mr Frankenstein and wearing a miniature - View
August - A new book and a question about condition - View
July - Additions and market comment - View
June - An addition and some queries - View
May - Market snippets and more on fakes - View
April - Magazine articles on American miniatures - View
April - Snippets and painting miniatures - View
March - Snippets and an addition - View
February - The Yves St Laurent sale - View
February - Market place and an addition - View
January - An addition and various comments - View
December - Annual Review for 2008 - View
December - Additions to the collection - View
December - The market- fake and genuine miniatures - View
November - Fake and genuine miniatures in the market place - View
November - Two additions - View
November- "Blog Following" and the market place - View
November - Miniatures of George Washington - fake and genuine. - View
November - Art of Mourning - View
October - The Case of the 4th Earl, the Harem, and the Great Art Fraud - View
October - A Spanish miniature portrait collection - View
October - The Market for Miniatures - View
October - More from the Market - View
September - A likely fake and the real Mr Frankenstein - View
September - The Case of the American Count and the Cookbook - View
September - New exhibition in Germany - View
August - American additions to the collection - View
August - Fakes, condition issues, and the market place - View
August - Preview - Comstock, Conger, Starr, and Stout families - View
August - The impact of the 1807 Embargo Act on miniatures - View
August - The Case of the Cabinet-Maker's Daughter - View
July - Researching sitters and decorative miniatures - View
July - American additions and Mr Darcy - View
July - The Case of Isaac Buckingham and The People vs McCool - View
June - Market place and miscellany - View
June - Additions to the collection and research - View
June - The Case of the Military Matriarch - View
May - Exhibitions, new literature, stolen miniature - View
May - New and recent literature on miniatures - View
May - Twenty years on the trail of William Douglas - View
May - Research and literature - View
May - American additions to the collection - View
May - The Case of the Speed Family and Abraham Lincoln - View
May - New Research and trivia - View
April - New dictionary of French miniature painters - View
April - The American market place - View
April - Une Collection Francaise - View Blog
April - Additions to the collection - View
April - Market place and other things - View
April - Miniature portrait of Benjamin West - View
April - Fakes and decorative miniatures - View
April - The Case of the von Cramon family and the Hitler bomb plot - View
March - Miscellany and more on museums - View
March - Additions to the collection - View
March - Market place - View
March - The exhibition of eBay Boycott Art - View
March - The Case of the British Rodin - View
February - Additions to the collection - View
February - The Case to Open the Museum Doors! - View
February - Stolen miniature portraits - View
February - Harriet Josephine Turner - View
February - Market place - View
January - Blue eyes, record price, - View
January - A forgotten family story - View
January - Additions to the collection - View
January - The Case of Walter Robertson - View

See also the Annual Review for 2007 and some previous cases below from:

An Art Collector's Casebook:

The Case of the Coal Mining Family from Ohio - View
The Case of the Lady Sculptor from Boston - View
The Case of the Mark Twain Portrait - View
The Case of the Link between Pocahontas and George Washington - View
The Case of the Lord Mayor of Melbourne - View
The Case of the Slave Trader's Widow - View
The Case of the Scandalous 19C Divorce - View
The Case of the Painter Princess - View
The Case of the 15 year old Eloping Heiress - View
The Case of the Gift from Napoleon - View
The Case of the Unknown Victoria Cross Winner - View
The Case of the Forgotten Author - View
The Case of the Chemistry Professor and the Spirit Mediums - View
The Case of the Portrait of Aaron Burr - View
The Case of the Governor's Grand March - View

(Please note that Copyright for all portraits and written content on this website and its subsidiary pages remains with the Owner, but images may be copied for private or educational research with an appropriate credit or an Internet link to this website. Clicking on About Me should bring up an email link.)


January 2019 - Several additions to the collection.

Several miniature portraits have been added to the collection over recent months.

St Memin Chief of the Little Osages - small ds 1518
Chief of the Little Osages by St Memin

This miniature portrait is a little larger than most miniatures, and is believed genuine.

It was acquired on Ebay from a reputable London UK art dealer who described it, "This picture was purchased from a folder of prints and drawing at my local Sunday antique market recently, this is the only provenance I have for the piece  therefore I am offering the drawing as after St Memin." 

The portrait was offered at an opening bid of $225 and acquired at a price a little above that.

There are already in this collection a couple of St Memin engravings, and my library includes a copy of the comprehensive St Memin catalogue (460 pages) prepared by Ellen G. Miles. Hence, there was more confidence in being prepared to take a calculated risk.

By comparison with other Indian portraits by St Memin, before bidding it was possible to come to a preliminary opinion the portrait was possibly genuine. This opinion was reinforced when the miniature arrived. The quality being too good for a fake, especially when offered for sale at $225.
After the auction closed, I did ask the dealer if he had communicated with anyone in USA about it, but he replied he had not.

NYHS St Memin Chief of the Little Osages large
In referring to the catalogue, the portrait appears as a final, but smaller version of large one owned by NYHS, Cat. 161 (Fig. 7-22), but in red and black chalk, and on watermarked paper. These portraits were sketched by St Memin of the Osages who were with the first delegation to Washington in 1804.

St-Memin used a device that projected the subject's images onto paper and then were traced, so their outlines were perfectly represented. The smaller portraits were probably made by reversing the process, to sketch the smaller portrait by copying the larger portraits.

The size of ds 1518 is 7.5 x 5.5 inches, which is similar to these other small portraits in the catalogue, Cat. 162 (7.25 x 6.5in), Cat. 634 (7.25 x 6 5/16in), Cat. 636 (7.25 x 6.75in), Cat. 637 (5 7/8 x 4.25in), Cat. 746 (7.25 x 6.5in), and Cat. 976 (7.25 x 6.25in). Thus, they are all likely all cut down from larger sheets.

When held to the light, there is a sideways part watermark on ds 1518, very similar, but not identical, to fig. 4.8. On the edge are several stitch holes similar to those on Cat. 633.  See the images further below

The six smaller portraits above are watercolours, rather than chalk, and in looking through the catalogue I see Indian portraits in black and white chalk, but not obviously in red and black chalk. I am inclined to the opinion that the NYHS version was a preliminary portrait, with the medium one below as a version in red and black, reduced in size, and ds 1518 as the final version in red and black chalk.

The signature appears similar to genuine items, but I accept a signature is often the last item to consider in attributing an artwork.The signature in at the extreme bottom right, whereas the Christies version is at middle left. The re-positioning being selected to give a better balance. It also seems more likely any fake would seek to show the signature in the same position as on the Christies version.

Christies 30/1/1997 medium
I note another version of the portrait at 

This has marginally less detail than ds 1518, and a similar signature, but placed at centre left, rather than bottom right. I do not know where that version currently resides, but that link appears to refer to the portrait offered by Christies, where the medium is also red and black chalk. .

Interestingly it is reportedly 12.4in by 7.7in, i.e. a sheet of paper which, if cut in half, would give two pieces, each close to the size of the version here, and to the other six noted above. 

It was offered by Christies as lot 215 on 30 January 1997 with an estimate of $8,000-12,000, but appears to have been unsold. 

It was described as:

Reverse of ds 1518
Allowing for the extra width and depth on the medium image, I am of the opinion the actual heads of the medium and small miniatures are the same size. The small portrait is a little more complete, with more detail on the earring and the neckwear.

Accordingly, I am currently of the opinion that ds 1518 is a final version of the larger versions.

With an apology to Ellen Miles for raising it, I do hope she will not regard me as impertinent, in suggesting that I tend to doubt, on pages 150-51, that Cat. 161. and Cat 162 in her catalogue are the same sitter. Presumably NYHS has, for many years, claimed they are the same sitter? I sense 162 is related, via a similar profile, perhaps father or uncle, but he appears to be older than 161.

Apart from different clothing, the top of his hair leans a different way, his pig-tail is shorter, and his earring different. Also, a second covered pigtail is more clearly seen in the attached version of 161, whereas in 162 the second pigtail is uncovered.

St Memin ds 1518 watermark
Thus at present, although not yet 100% certain, I currently lean towards the ds 1518 miniature portrait as being genuine, based on the quality, the watermark, the technique, the paper, the size, the signature, and the appearance as a final version of both Cat 161 and the medium version. 
A possible explanation for the portrait being found in London, England, is that it was more easily transported than the large, preliminary drawings and may have been acquired by a British collector in New York and taken to England.. 
However, I would be grateful for any other thoughts on this St Memin portrait. ds 1518.

St Memin ds 1518 signature

Miniatures by the American artist, Pamelia Hill (1803-60) are uncommon. Some sources give her name as Pamela Hill, but Pamelia is the correct spelling.

The miniature is signed on the reverse "Painted by Pamelia Hill June 1842".

The Smithsonian has one example by her, where it is stated, "Little is known about the miniaturist Pamelia Hill, except that she worked in Massachusetts before the Civil War and painted several portraits of prominent Worcester families."

ds 1524

This is an American miniature portrait on ivory from c.1930-40, in a typical metal frame of the time.

It is signed P. Phillips, which is not the name of a recognised artist. It is not readily discernible as on a photographic base, but that may be the medium, with Phillips as the name of the photographer, who then arranged for the hand colouring of the portrait. 

There was an American miniature painter, Josephine Phillips who was active in 1934-38, so she may have been a relative of the artist.

ds 1523


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