July - Additons and market comment

The Market Place

The other day, I wrote to someone about eBay and the Internet as follows.
"In looking back I see the first years of eBay and the Internet, have been an unrepeatable opportunity for collecting, prior to sellers and buyers becoming sophisticated. Most of my best buys were due to bad descriptions, bad spelling, and unsophisticated eBay systems.

For example, it used to be that "miniature" and "miniatures" required separate searches, so many people did not search on "miniatures", whereas I did. Also, you would be amazed how many different spelling errors there are, even for common words. However, sadly, most dedicated collectors now search multiple spellings!! (Tricks of the trade!!) Before eBay, I was constantly visiting antique shops looking for new stock, but now I rarely visit them, as all is done online!"

I started buying on eBay in mid 2000 and about 90% of the miniatures on this site were purchased there, for a very long time buying a couple every week. But now I rarely bid, especially since eBay ended its Live Auctions. There are too many wise collectors and dealers, so bargains have virtually disappeared, and many prices are inflated. However, I feel very fortunate to have been part of the "Wild West" era, which now seems ended.

Although it appeared without me being asked, it is somewhat surprising, and flattering, when miniatures from this collection are copied for other websites! For example a miniature of Garrit van Horne has graced an advertisement for the April Philadelphia Antiques Show and a major exhibition of miniature portrait titled "Patriots and Presidents: Philadelphia Portrait Miniatures, 1760-1860", See Gilbert Stuart: Philadelphia & early colonial portraiture/Portrait ...

Basically, I do not mind, although preferring a link back here, as the use helps to spread awareness of the subject. Also, if any miniature became as famous as the Mona Lisa, it would presumably be worth as much (Ha! Ha!)

Even so, the odd opportunity does arise to be able to buy something different, even if not at a bargain price!

Thus this pair of a Swedish University professor and author, Ebbe Samuel Bring, and his young wife, Anna Maria Leche, are a welcome addition to the collection

Miniature portraits by Scandinavian artists are not often seen outside north Europe, thus this signed, dated, and identified, pair by Maria Christina Rohl are especially useful in comparing painting styles, and dating clothing for undated miniatures. For more about them, see Rohl, Maria Christina - portraits of Ebbe Samuel and Anna Bring

More Market Examples

Miniatures from China and Hong Kong are occasionally seen, as with this example by Seng Yuen of Hong Hong, which sold for GBP122.

There is some debate over whether they should be classified as over-painted photos or not. My own opinion, is that they are not over-painted photos, but are genuine miniatures on ivory.

I am inclined to the view, that the reason they look like over-painted photos, is that the style developed by copying daguerreotypes carried by naval and other visitors to Asia.

There are some other examples in this collection.

Another interesting item was this family portrait where the father is wearing a uniform and the mother is holding a baby.

The mark above the lady's head is only a reflection and it sold for EUR433, which seems very reasonable, as the family was identified on the rear.

Although it was not expensive, this French miniature of a lady at court in a blue dress, shows how careful buyers need to be.

It was listed for sale at $225, then relisted a couple of days later for $175.

The price is reasonable, but it is a decorative copy, despite carrying a signature and the date 1788.

They may have been added later, as they are in gold paint.

It is a little hard to convey why it is wrong for the year 1788, as it will be a copy.

The colors are wrong, being too pale, the frame is more modern, and the rear is covered with an old document to make it seem older.

Some fakes are so obvious that one want to scream about the lack of professionalism shown by so called experts.

For example look at this fake with a piano key frame. It was sold by Pook & Pook as "A painting by John Smart, (British, 1741 to 1811). Oil on ivory miniature full-length portrait of William Pitt the younger, circa 1783."

It now appears at prices4antiques, see Smart, John; Oil on Ivory, Miniature, Portrait of Man, William ..

It was painted in the early 20C, and is a decorative copy of a large oil by another artist of the late 18C, possibly Gainsborough??

It is amazing that two such professional organisations can make such a silly mistake and expect people to rely on their judgement and pay for their services!

Some good miniatures do appear.
Recently, I was sent this image by an unsuccessful bidder at a local auction in NE USA.

It sold for $2050 plus buyer's commission, and I was asked who the artist was? I had to say it looked a bit like a James Peale, or Robert Field, but I doubted it was by either. However, it is a stunning miniature.

I have since asked an real expert on American miniatures, and he has replied as follows; "It does look like a James Peale but it's not. My best guess is that is an Archibald Robertson and possibly a copy of a Peale portrait. It's tough to tell without actually handling the piece but the technique does not look like Peale's work from this period."

That goes to show, that even the most expert eye can be uncertain with their attributions, without close inspection.

Recently sold for $710 is this identified pair. I was tempted to bid, but did not do so, when the price increased.

Although they are unsigned, my belief is that they are probably by James H Gillespie who painted in a similar style, although later works tended to have shading at the sides and bottom,

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