January 2016 - Sundry additions to the collection in 2015

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.

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."  


September 2014 - News and publications

A New Book
For those collectors with a specialised interest in European miniatures, or even those wider collectors with a more generalised interest, this excellent book of essays has recently been published. The book European Portrait Miniatures - Artists, Functions and Collections, records in 222 well illustrated and erudite pages, a series of twenty papers delivered at a conference organised and supported by the Tansey Foundation in 2013.

The authors of the papers are all highly regarded in the field of collecting miniature portraits, not only of Continental European miniatures, but also British miniatures. As such the book covers a wide range of themes and is one of very few books in English to cover European miniatures so widely, as most other books are either not in English, or are more dedicated to particular countries in Europe. More about the book can be found at where copies can also be ordered.

LAPADA Antique Fair in London
September 2014 is also the time of the LAPADA antique fair in London. It is currently running and at the time of writing this post, a couple of catalogues of miniature portraits on offer at the fair can be seen at the following links;

September 2014 Issue
LAPADA Catalogue Now Online
To view an online catalogue of our portrait miniature highlights at LAPADA fair this year, please click here.
All catalogues are also available to view on our website and can be viewed on all smart phones and tablet devices.
 A second catalogue is from Ellison Fine Art and can be seen at;
Art & Antiques Fair
Berkeley Square

Claudia Hill at Ellison Fine Art will be exhibiting a large selection of fine portrait miniatures and silhouettes at the forthcoming Fair to be held in Berkeley Square between 24-28th September, 2014.

She hopes that you have already received a ticket but if it has got lost in the post or you would like to receive further complimentary tickets please click below.

Due to her extensive stock she will be exhibiting in the middle marquee this year the new location being Stand B9

Click here to view my Autumn Catalogue 2014

There is a new catalogue available here showing some of the new pieces currently in stock. For a more comprehensive look at our stock please visit our web site
Powered by
© 2014 Ellison Fine Art, Buckinghamshire, UK


May 2014 - An important addition

This month sees the addition to the collection of a miniature portrait by the famous miniature painter John Smart (1742/3-1811). The sitter is identified on the rear as General Bruce and on the left front is signed "JS 1778" (apologies for the reflection). As it is on paper and hence fragile, I was reluctant to remove it from the frame to photograph, after more than 200 years unopened.

The purchase of this miniature does illustrate how it is possible to find miniatures by important artists at bargain prices, even if not every day. It is just necessary to gradually keep on accumulating knowledge and keeping one's eyes open for any opportunities that may arise. 

The miniature was one of 30 miniatures offered at an auction 400 miles away, so one for which it was necessary to make absentee bids. The other miniatures were of good average quality, but this one was not really rated by the auctioneer, being described only as; English School of General Bruce initialled & dated 'TS/1778'(?), painted on paper, ebonised fruitwood frame $200-400.

However, from the catalogue photo it appeared recognisable as a John Smart, with the initials in the description misread as TS instead of JS. On 10 June 2010 Christie's in London auctioned ten similar John Smart miniatures on paper which aggregated nearly £120,000, an average hammer price of £12,000 each. Hence it would not have been surprising if this one had sold for up to $10,000, far more than could have been afforded for this collection. With only a small photo in the auction catalogue, and being unable to actually view the miniature, it was difficult to be sure it was a Smart, hence a modest limit bid  was made, much more in hope than expectation.  That faint hope was luckily realised far below expectation, with the successful hammer price being $350.

Research into the sitter has revealed him as General Thomas Bruce (1738 – 12 December 1797), a British soldier and politician, and the third son of William Bruce, 8th Earl of Kincardine. He was the Member of Parliament for Marlborough, 22 June 1790 – 30 May 1796, and Great Bedwyn, 28 May 1796 – 12 December 1797.He died at Exeter and is buried in the Lady Chapel at Exeter Cathedral, where he is described as Lieut General Thomas Bruce Colonel of the 16th regiment of foot and uncle of the Earl of Elgin, 1797. The army preferments of June 1786 record his promotion:"The Hon Major General Thomas Bruce to be resident major general on the staff of Ireland vice Major General St Leger dec." 1460


February 2014 - Some American Additions

Time has been found to catch up on and add to the collection, several American miniature portraits acquired at various times in the past year or so.

This first miniature portrait was painted by a British artist in England, but has been included in an American Gallery as it is of a famous 19C American maths prodigy and thus a very lucky purchase. The vendor did not realise that and so it was merely advertised as;
 Albin Roberts BURT (1783 – 1842) “Zerah Cobourn”. A portrait of a youthful Oxford academic bedecked in his gown, possibly an American as no British census records exist for the name Zerah Cobourn.

Some of the writing on the rear is hard to read, but Zerah Cobourn (for Colburn) can be read at the top. He was born on 1 September 1804 and died on 2 March 1839, being a child prodigy of the 19th century who gained fame as a mental calculator. There is more about him at Zerah Colburn (math prodigy) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia He also wrote a book about his life which is available at A memoir of Zerah Colburn: written by himself.

The young man who is the sitter is unknown in this miniature portrait of c1815-1825, but it is signed "Stump pinxt".

Samuel John Stump (1778-1863) was a very competent artist who is believed to have been born in USA, although it is not known where. As such he has been included with other American miniatures.

He worked in London, Brighton, Zurich, and Geneva. Unfortunately the miniature is warped and hence the scanned image does not adequately reflect his skill. 1478 

 This finely painted miniature portrait is signed with an incised signature by George Freeman (1787-1868), an American miniature painter who worked in both the United States and in England.

The sitter is unknown, but the detail of the sitter's clothing, and indeed his facial features are very well painted, better than can be seen in this image. 1482

Included in this collection there is also a miniature portrait by George Freeman of a young lady as below, which was painted on his return to America.

See  Freeman, George - portrait of a lady

This miniature portrait, only 40mm x 32mm in size, was offered on eBay as a miniature portrait of an unknown lady, being advertised as;
 "Antique Early 1800's Bonnet Lady Portrait Miniature on Enamel 14K Gold Case. Shabby Chic Condition Glass Back Case 15.27 grams".

As such there was limited price competition, even though there were a total of 21 bids, and it was fortunately purchased for this collection for less than the value of the gold content, $160. Thus bargains can occasionally be found even on eBay, that is, provided one is careful and does one's research beforehand as far as practical.

It is a copy on enamel of the miniature portrait of Martha Washington on ivory by James Peale (1749-1831), painted in 1796 and now residing at Mount Vernon.

Although this miniature has the sitter's name on the reverse, it has proved difficult to find out anything about him. At top left it is inscribed either "Rev Mr Roush" or "Rev Wm Roush", or less likely "Routh".

Without being exceptional, the miniature is well painted and the pointed shape of the nose is reminiscent of the work of James Peale (1749-1831) of Philadelphia. For example, a portrait said to be of James Ladson painted by him in 1799. Peale did his best work between 1786 and 1805, and in his work after 1805 he is said to have been assisted by his daughter Anna Claypoole Peale (1791-1878).

The pose of this miniature is similar to that of miniatures by both Peale and his daughter, and if a joint work would be less likely to be signed. From the discussion about casework as below, it is believed the miniature probably dates to 1810-1815 and was probably painted in Philadelphia.The name Roush, changed from Rausch, did occur in the Philadelphia area. He is likely therefore to be related to John Roush or Jacob Roush, both of Philadelphia, who were born in the mid 18C and died after 1815.

One way to date the miniature is by studying the casework which helps to confirm it as an American portrait. I have discussed elsewhere the effect of the 1808 Embargo Act on American miniature portraits. As a consequence of the trade war, it was not possible to import cases and glasses from Britain. Hence for a period of several years from 1808-1815 miniature painters had to make cases out of whatever they could find. In this instance there is, unusually, an inner and outer glass, both with metal bezels as shown in the photographs here. It appears the miniature was made to fit the inner bezel, itself made to fit an available glass. There being no indication of any hanger.  As the miniature was then too small for a standard case, the inner half-case and miniature were then placed inside a rectangular ebonised case, which appears to be more likely of French origin, trade with France being easier than with Britain. The miniature is therefore very collectible as being a good example of an Embargo Act "make-do" case. 1485

Parts of this group of miniature portraits were offered on Ebay, with some retained by the vendor and others sold to different buyers. Three were acquired for this collection, but the full group is shown here for the benefit of researchers and in an effort to identify some of the sitters. The research process may also be interesting to visitors.

The three acquired are the one at top left and the central pair at the bottom. The vendor also kindly enclosed several labels which identified some of the sitters. The vendor in Winnebago, Minnesota, United States had acquired the full group as a single unit and described them as; "James J Hill RAILROAD TYCOON, SUPREME COURT JUDGE STRONG Family Relation photos in EXCELLENT CONDITION, 113 yrs OLD", and also:


Although the vendor listed the identities in good faith, analysis of the labels suggests that some items may have been miss-identified, with the relationship with the Hill family unexplored beyond the vendor's comment. The pair acquired for this collection have been removed from their frames and photographed separately. They are both signed by Otto E Eckardt of Dresden, the one of a young man also being signed and dated 1901 on the reverse. Otto Eckardt was one of a family of miniature painters who appear to have been sent photographs from America, from which he painted miniature portraits. As can be seen below he also added colour to the reverse. Although, superficially, they may look like those miniatures painted in America on ivory over a faint photographic base, there is no sign of that technique here and they are believed to be traditional miniature portraits on ivory.  There are a number of similar Eckardt miniature portraits of other sitters in this collection.
In seeking to identify the sitters, the young man is the best place to start. It seems fairly certain he is identified by the label "Arthur Jarvis Slade only brother of George Theron Slade". Although the references at Rootsweb have not been double-checked, that website does record Arthur Jarvis Slade, born 1 October 1872 in New York, and also his brother. A birth date of 1872 would make him 29 in 1901 which seems to fit. Arthur died in Naples Italy on 30 March 1932. He appears to have qualified as an engineer and his parents are recorded on Rootsweb as George P Slade and Cornelia Wheeler Strong born 29 April 1844. I 1900 Arthur married Jessica Hildreth Halsey who was born in 1877, thus it is likely his portrait was painted at the time of his wedding, probably as a pair with a portrait of his first wife which then retained by her on their divorce. The woman here is too young to be her and thus is more likely his mother, Cornelia Wheeler Strong Slade. There is more about the family at

An extensive obituary of Arthur has been located which shows he was divorced in 1920 and then, in Paris, was remarried in 1929 to Yvonne Truchot Tegou, but appears to have had no children.

The pair at the top of the group photo are clearly by the same artist and painted at the same time. The miniatures were retained by the vendor but by deduction, are believed to be the father of Arthur, George P Slade and the mother of Cornelia Wheeler Strong Slade, a Cornelia Wheeler Barnes born 15 February 1816. Their birth dates would appear to match the ages in the miniatures.

The identification of George Patten Slade is reinforced by a photograph of him in a book Oakdale by Diane Holliday, Chris Kretz published in 2010. Anyone wishing to purchase a copy should refer to Arcadia Publishing At the time, 1902, George P Slade was President of the South Side Sportsmen's Club. See also South Side Sportsmen's Club - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Identification of Judge Strong, State Supreme Court, as referred to in one label is less easy, but it seems likely to be the miniature at top right of the large group photo.  The Emma Barnes Slade/Strong referred to in another label is less obvious. She was the great-grandmother of Arthur and may be the lady at the bottom right, with the man at bottom left being her husband. However, as those two portraits appear to be French from c1815-1825, they may well be ancestors of Arthur Slade's French, second, wife, Yvonne Truchot Tegou, which could also explain the origin of the two miniatures in the middle which appear to be French decorative miniature portraits. The man at top left is identified on the rear as either "Rev Mr Roush" or "Rev Wm Roush". His miniature portrait was acquired for this collection and can be found in the American 3 Gallery. 1486a, 1486b, 1485.