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 800 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


Notice of Conference - November 11-13, 2016

Portrait Miniatures Artists, Functions and Collections
- International Conference at Celle Castle, Germany 

Collectors of miniature portraits should note, and attend if possible, the November 2016 conference on miniature portraits, as described in the flyer below, which gives contact addresses for any collector seeking to attend. See also Activities - The Tansey Miniatures Foundation


January 2016 - Various additions to the collection

[NB Google is changing its procedures, so if you wish to follow this site you may need to follow their new rules] 

The miniature portraits depicted here were purchased for the Artists and Ancestors collection, but are mostly examples which had not been added into the website due to the pressure of other research. They are now added as part of a New Year's Resolution to try to get up to date!

Those depicted represent a wide range of artist skills and variation in quality, but most appealed as examples to represent differing aspects of miniature collecting. Many of them would be shunned by collectors of expensive high quality miniatures, but the range shows what is available for purchase by a collector of more modest means. They all came from public auctions and in order of acquisition are as below.

ds 1489 is an Italian lady in provincial costume, where the detail of the portrait is much finer than can be seen in the images. A kind expert in Italy sent me the printed image of a similar costume, which shows the costume comes from the region of Salerno. What looks like a signature is actually a description. It was inexpensive appealed due to the primitive, but finely detailed style


ds  1491 This fairly ordinary looking man has no great merit, He is probably French and came from a local auction along with the miniature on paper by John Smart previously separately added to the website.

ds 1490 by John Smart

ds 1492 This miniature portrait came from the same auction as 1490 and 1491. Although not of high quality it is in a large ornate frame and interesting as it shows how artist used several pieces of ivory when they wanted to paint or enlarge a large miniature. This one appears to be an actress painted around 1820-30, and an expert on the theatre may be able to detect the role or play depicted.

The full sight size is 175mm by 120mm and to purchase a piece of ivory of that dimension would have been very expensive. Thus the main portrait is 130mm by 110mm, which is still large for a miniature. As the colours vary between the pieces, the extra ivory may have been added when it was reframed. There is no obvious signature, although it has not been opened.

[Later - a kind visitor has made a helpful suggestion about this miniature portrait: "While there is no way to be positive, I believe it could be a portrait of Mademoiselle Ekaterina Semyonova (also Catherine Semenova) costumed as Alina, Queen of Golconda.  Semyonova was a principle Diva at the Imperial Theater of St. Petersburg where she played the role of Alina.  Alina, Reine de Golconde with music by Francois-Adrien Boieldieu opened in St. Petersburg in 1804. The opera played throughout Europe from 1755 to 1898.  The music in most cases was rewritten by a notable composer of the era and city in which it played.  The famous Gaetano Donizetti wrote the music for the Genoa, Italy production in 1828."]
ds 1493 Another miniature of no great merit, but interesting for the level of detail depicted in a harbour scene.

ds 1494 This is an early 20C or late 19C portrait of King Frederick the Great, of no great quality, but unusual as a wax miniature of him.

ds 1495 was added separately to the website. It is by the American artist Charles Willson Peale and is a portrait of Colonel Charles Pope.

ds 1496 This miniature portrait is of Henry Penny Sale, youngest son of Sir Robert Sale GCB. Although on paper, it has an interesting inscription on the reverse. A bit hard to read, but apparently:

"Henry Penny Sale, youngest son of Sir Robert Sale GCB and Lady Sale, killed by a fall in the hills near Simla, India, b. 1829, died 1851. Lieutenant in the 13th Regiment of ft.. Adjutant of his regiment, aged nearly 22. At school at [Pl.orlong]? dean near Brightom Sussex with Major General William C Stileman, a son of the late R Stileman Esq. of the [Friends]? of Winchelsea, Sussex, where his grand-parents, George and Mary Wynch lived, also Mrs Vane."

See also Henry Penny Sale 1829-1851 - and
Sale - Lieutenant Henry Penny - 13th Bengal Native Infantry - died 30th April 1851.
Son of Major-General Sir Robert Henry Sale, GCB (killed at Mudki 1845). Served Punjab 1848 (medal and bar).
Grave at Subathu -
"Sacred to the memory of Henry Penny Sale. Lieutt 13th Regt N.I. Adjt Nusseree Battn who died on the 30th April 1851 aged 24 years. Deeply regretted by his family and friends. This tablet was erected by his brother officers as a token of their esteem."

ds 1497 This miniature of a young lady  is housed in a red leatherette case and is unusual as it was painted in South Africa. On the reverse it is signed J. E. Ford, Cape Town, 1825. Unfortunately the sitter is not identified, but it is finely painted, and interesting as an indication that London hair and clothing fashions of 1825 were quickly repeated in South Africa.

Ford flourished 1793-1830, and Foskett notes that Schidlof mentioned two portraits by him. An officer signed on the reverse J.E. Ford, Cape Town and another signed on the reverse. J.E. Ford, 1828. Thus this one of a young lady seems to be especially unusual in being signed with both the location and the date.


ds 1498 This miniature portrait of a young lady is a little smaller than usual for the time, c.1815, being 50mm by 40mm.

It is by an American artist and is in what  I call a "make-do" case. That is it dates from about 1815, around the time of the war of 1812, when the Embargo Act was in place which prevented artists from getting supplies of new casework from England. Hence artist were forced to use what ever left over materials they could find to combine and produce "make-do" cases.

I have written elsewhere on how many dealers replace the cases of miniatures like this to make them more saleable, but as a historian, I believe they should be retained in their "make-do" cases, as a more honest condition and a reminder of the interesting history of events around the Embargo Act.

It was suggested her married name was possibly a Mrs Goadlow [Goodlow?] and the rear is engraved with her initials, presumably when unmarried, JWD or IWD, so there may be a faint chance of identifying her.

The artist is a puzzle, as the quality is high, but not easily recognisable. Possibilities include Raphael Peale, as the background colouring is similar to his work, Anson Dickinson, or Hugh Bridport.

The engraving on the rear of the case is not common and the tiny glass is another indication of the Embargo Act, as high quality glass was unavailable in America at the time. The brooch fitting is broken off, but is more recent, perhaps 20 years later.

ds 1499 This is another American miniature portrait from c.1820, again smaller than usual for the time, sight size 43mm by 35mm. It is a good example of an early American designed case, as a result of the Embargo Act, but still with proper materials in short supply.

When advertised it was described as "English oval framed 1770-1790, young man", but is definitely later and American, so is an indication that sellers often have inaccurate descriptions. Although the image is out of focus, the artist is perhaps Daniel Dickinson or Thomas Edwards.

ds 1500  This miniature portrait was merely described as, "Miniature Etching Of Distinguished Gentleman 19th Cent". Hence it was very cheap. However, it was immediately obvious as a Saint Memin portrait, being inscribed at the foot, "Drawn and Engr. by St. Memin, Philadd." see Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin - Wikipedia ...

With such engraved portraits it is usually possible to identify the sitter by reference to the book by Ellen G Miles which lists hundreds of examples with their images, see Saint-Mémin and the neoclassical profile portrait in America

One of the joys of collecting miniature portraits, although rarely possible, is to take an unidentified sitter and so to speak "bring them back to life". 

This one took a while to work through (thankfully his name was not Wyatt!), before being matched with a portrait of William Poyntell, who died in 1811 and was an eminent merchant and publisher. There is an extensive obituary for him in The Gentleman's Magazine, see The Gentleman's Magazine which opens:

"Sept 10 1811 Died at his house in Philadelphia, in his 56th year, universally lamented, William Poyntell, esq. late Merchant, and one of the Select Council of that city. He had retired from business several years having acquired an ample fortune, of which he merited the enjoyment by the most inflexible integrity in all his dealings and transactions with whomsoever he was engaged. Mr Poyntell was an Englishman, and his character holds forth so bright an example of usefulness and private worth, that we are persuaded we shall stand excused for entering upon it more at large. He was born at Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire, and baptized in the parish church there, April 9, 1756. ...."

He sold stationery and wall papers, there being a picture of scales sold by him at The Price of Freedom: Money Scales  and wallpaper at Stanley Y. Klos: Imlay Mansion There is a picture of his grave at  William Poyntell (1756 - 1811) - Find A Grave Memorial and discussion of his art collecting activities at  William Poyntell (1756–1811) - Springer and 'All my stained glass which I brought from Europe'

ds 1501 One sitter who was identified is in this silhouette portrait, Lord Charlemont. There was a fashion for a while of using a silhouette portrait of the sitter's face, but with coloured clothing, often for those in uniform, as here.

The sitter is the Earl of Charlemont (1728-99), see  James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont - Wikipedia, the free ... He was well known for his love of Classical art and culture and spent nine years on the Grand Tour in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt. He returned to Dublin and employed the Scottish architect Sir William Chambers to remodel his main residence Marino House, to design his town house Charlemont House and the unique Neo-Classical garden pavilion building, the Casino at Marino.
There is a similar image of him at  James Caulfield, Earl of Charlemont - Library Ireland together with an account of his life. And more about him with another portrait at The Armagh Election of 1753 - Craigavon Historical Societywhich is probably engraved from an original oil portrait.

ds 1502 This miniature of a young girl is believed to be American for several reasons, firstly as the reverse is solid metal and is engraved in large letters HTG, so perhaps her first name was Harriet. Solid backs on miniatures of this size, are occasionally met with in America, but practically never on British miniatures, it being 71mm by 58mm. Although it is a very similar pose to works by William Verstile or Lawrence Sully, it may be too late for either of them.

Alexander Pope

ds 1503  Alexander Pope has become increasingly relevant to my research into the life and works of the author, Tobias Smollett, so when this  miniature portrait on ivory was offered on Ebay in 2015, as an "Unknown  Gentleman", it was impossible to resist purchasing it.

It is after  an earlier oil portrait of Pope by Thomas Hudson and is signed V.V.K.) Although after a well known portrait. The research into Smollett, his Lost Works ,and the War of the Satirists is extensively covered at  The Lost Works of Tobias Smollett and the War of the Satirists and is the main reason for spending so little time on miniatures.

ds 1504 This pressed metal portrait, probably of a clergyman, is poor quality and very cheap, but I had hoped to identify the sitter and so make him more interesting. It is also over-painted, but he remains unidentified.

However, he must have been of some significance to have a medal pressed.

ds 1505 This better quality pressed metal portrait came from the same source. It appears to be gilded brass and is a portrait of Sir Sidney Smith. An extensive account of his life is at Sidney Smith (Royal Navy officer) - Wikipedia, the free ...  There it is noted,

Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, KCB, GCTE, KmstkSO, FRS (21 June 1764 – 26 May 1840) was a British naval officer. Serving in the American and French revolutionary wars, he later rose to the rank of admiral. Napoleon Bonaparte, reminiscing later in his life, said of him: "That man made me miss my destiny"

He was also active against the slave trade. 

ds 1506 Continuing the naval theme is this miniature portrait of Lord Louis Mountbatten by Dorothy Turton, for Dorothy Barbara Jessie Turton RMS (1900-1900s).

Men in uniform are obviously much more colourful than those dressed in drab black coats of the 19C, but what is not immediately realised, is that those in uniform take a lot longer to paint, especially when, as here, there are many decorations, and a very detailed uniform. 

The colouring of miniatures goes through fashions like many other things and this one is not as reddish as appears in the photo. The inscription on the rear reads:

Lord Louis Mountbattern, 1979, Dorothy Turton, £130, RMS, Exhibited in 1986 in The Mall Galleries, The Mall, London. 

That was a lot of money at the time of 1979, which reflects the time  that must have been spent by Dorothy Turton on the detail, but only a little different than the price it was able to be acquired at for this collection. For much more about Mountbatten who was killed in a bomb explosion on 27 August 1979, see Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma - Wikipedia This portrait was presumably painted soon after he died as a copy from this large oil.

ds 1507 This miniature portrait was offered at a local auction with no description other than being a portrait of a man.  However, he was interesting to me as I was able to read the faint writing on the reverse as reading, "F.H. Bischoff, Painted by hinself." Foskett says only of him "Bischoff, F.H. (fl. 1823-49) Of London. Exhibited at the R.A. 1823-49. His address was in 1823 was 176 Sloan Street, Knightsbridge."

This made him doubly interesting, firstly as self-portraits are always special and, secondly, the name Bischoff, as there are other portraits and items in this collection by Bischoff which were also purchased locally several years ago.

In particular in the collection there is a RA token engraved with the name of Charles Ferdinand Bischoff (1820-1898), the son of the artist F H Bischoff. Here are the front and reverse of his ivory ticket to the Royal Academy. On the front is written "Royal Academy Antique School 1768" and on the reverse "Chas Ferdinand Bischoff - Admitted 12th Dec'r 1840".

ds 1508 The final portrait for the year was not the least. For some reason the auctioneers attributed it to John Smart, but it was immediately clear it was an early miniature portrait by George Engleheart (1750-1829). The sight size is only 39mm by 33mm and it was offered in an ordinary ebonised frame. However, inside it was still in its original bracelet fitting. The miniature is from his second period 1780-95, when he tended not to sign his work and was the period of which Foskett writes, "his full powers developed, his colouring became strong, his draughtsmans hip was good and although he still used small ivories, the quality of the work was excellent."  

It is not expected to have as many additions during 2016.