January - Addition and the market place

An American Addition

Already, the year ahead does not look promising for many endeavours, nor for the world-wide economy, but hopefully it will be possible to accumulate a few interesting miniatures during 2009.

Fortunately, the year has got off to an auspicious start with the acquisition of a very interesting American miniature portrait of John Shubael Bell of Boston.

The artist has not yet been determined, but they may be a Scandinavian or German working in Boston. The sitter has been able to be confirmed, by comparison with a contemporary portrait of John Shubael Bell, so it would have been painted in Boston.

The interest in the miniature is that in 1815 John Shubael Bell gifted the first sculpture of Georges Washington ever to go on public display. The marble sculpture can still be seen, nearly two hundred years later) at Old North Church (originally called Christ Church) in Boston.

For more about the portrait and pictures of the Washington sculpture see Unknown - portrait of John Shubael Bell

A visitor has asked about modern miniature portrait painters. Some artists can be found via the links at Art Collecting Links

Interesting Miniatures
A kind visitor found the miniature by Daniel and Maria Wagner in this collection and has sent in for display another miniature by Daniel Wagner. Wagner painted this one of his niece, Altheda Sheffield (Phelps) at age 14 in 1840. She was the great-great-grandmother of the visitor.

For the one of an unknown lady in this collection by Daniel Wagner, see Wagner, Daniel and Maria Louisa - portrait of a lady It is clear they are both by the same artist and so that helps to build up knowledge of two talented artists, who were brother and sister.

Recently published by the Washington Post is an interesting portrait of Martha Washington.

Known portraits of Martha show her as an older lady, but by using computer software, it has been possible to reverse age her portrait, to show what she might have looked like as a young woman. The older image of Martha Washington is from a miniature portrait painted by James Peale.

From the computer image, an artist named Micheal Deas has painted this portrait of Martha as an attractive young lady.

The Market Place
For those interested in museums, a sudden shock is the closure of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University. The whole collection is to be sold. For more see my blog comment at Part 8 - Stimulus, autos, and museums and for a statement from Michael Rush, Director of the Rose Art Art Museum, regarding the impending closing of the museum. Cick here.

On a more positive note, interesting miniatures noticed in the market place included a tiny enamel of a fox, in the form of a tie-pin three inches long, with the enamel itself being only just over half an inch in diamteter.

It was signed by William Essex (1784-1869) and dated 1861. At only GBP 193 it was a bargain for the purchaser, as I think similar works have sold for over 1000 pounds.

One miniature which attracted no bids was a 20C miniature of an unknown lady by the British artist, Charles Turrell (1845-1932). His miniatures are usually in expensive frames, as this one is, and they sell for very high prices, although to me his work seems no better than several other 20C artists from Britain.

The one here is signed "CT 1889" and the opening bid sought was $1250, but there was no interest.

As usual there are a few sellers offering fakes for sale. This poor quality miniature by a British artist was offered and claimed to be by the American artist, William Verstille, 1755-1803. However, it is nothing like his work. I sent the seller a message politely telling him this the first time he listed it, but he ignored my email. The asking price was very high and it did not sell.

The second time by the seller, it was listed the price was much lower, although it was still claimed to be by Verstille. It sold for GBP 163 still overpriced, but most buyers obviously realised the attribution was fake.

A quite attractive miniature of a girl by Theodora Larsh sold for GBP95, which seemed quite inexpensive.

There are several miniatures by Theodora Larsh in this collection, including a self portrait and a portrait of her husband, see Larsh, Theodora - portraits of herself and her husband

The Larsh portrait was also interesting, as a kind visitor recently sent me images of a collection of dozen or so miniatures by Theordora Larsh, seeking to sell them.

Some of the Larsh miniatures had been exhibited and were very nice examples of her work, being more like miniature paintings of unusual portrait angles and full figures, than standard miniature portraits, but regretfully the collection was far too expensive for me to buy.

An miniature of an unknown older lady wearing a white bonnet was painted by Thomas Heathfield Carrick (1802-1875) and sold for GBP 205. The interesting feature about this miniature, is that it is painted on marble.

Carrick was noted for painting on marble and received a medal from Prince Albert in 1845 for the concept.

There is a pair of miniatures on marble of a young man and a lady by Carrick in the British section of this collection. See Carrick, Thomas Heathfield - portrait of a man and Carrick, Thomas Heathfield - portrait of a lady

Mourning items usaully attract high prices and this attractive mourning ring was no exception, selling for GBP 821. The name and age of the person commemorated was engraved on the reverse, which added to the value. It would be interesting to research that person.

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