March - A New Book, and Some Modern Fakes

A New Book about Rosalba Carriera
Bernardo Falconi has kindly advised me of a recent publication about Rosalba Carriera (1673-1757) which is based upon an exhibition in 2007 in Venice. She is generally regarded as being one of the first miniature painters to paint miniatures on ivory. Previously they were usually painted on vellum or on copper.

Bernardo also advises;
"I’m writing to let you know that at the end of 2009 the Giorgio Cini Foundation has published the book of the proceedings of the Conference held at the Giorgio Cini Foundation, Venice, and in Chioggia in the spring of 2007, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the death of Rosalba Carriera (1757-2007), where, among 16 interesting texts by different authors on various aspects of her life, there is also the one of mine (p215-236) dedicated to Rosalba Carriers and the miniature on ivory. As you know an abstract in the French language of my text was published in connection with the report of the Chantilly international meeting La Miniature en Europe, and a longer one in German in the book Miniaturen des Rokoko aus der Sammlung Tansey (both in 2008). This book is the original, longer and complete version, in Italian, and with 387 pages."

The book is very comprehensive. Its publication is welcomed as a further indication of increased scholarly interest in miniature portraits, and will be another required purchase for serious collectors, and those museums with works by Carriera in their collections. There is more information about the book at Fondazione Cini

There is one miniature in this collection which had been attributed to Rosalba Carriera, see Carriera, Rosalba - portrait of a girl However, as an example of how difficult attributions are, even for experts, a new opinion doubts the previous attribution;
"About your miniature attributed to Rosalba Carriera, I agree that it is clearly connected with her wide production of miniatures representing young charming peasant girls, but, I think that – independently of the bad conservation and/or retouches - it is not by her, for, it does not have the quality of her works, not only in the use of colour, but in drawing too. As you know, the enormous success of Rosalba’s miniatures among the International connoisseurs (above all French, English and German) of the Grand Tour, from the beginning of the XVIIIth Century, caused not only the adoption of the ivory in Europe as a medium to paint in miniature instead of vellum, but also a wide production of copies and miniatures inspired to her works. Both the Carriera’s sisters, Angela and Giovanna, such as her many pupils, painted copies of her miniatures, but I think that your miniature was not painted by an artist working strictly beside Rosalba."

Modern Fakes
In recent months I have become increasingly concerned about reproduction miniatures being offered on Ebay by sellers in Britain at opening prices of around £10-£25.

The sellers do say that they are selling reproductions, but what I feared is now starting to happen. Unscrupulous buyers are re-offering the miniatures on eBay and at other places without advising that they are reproductions.

I see this as a major problem for new and even for some advanced collectors who buy miniatures based upon a picture only. There is not a lot I can do other than express caution. These two examples have just been sent to me where this has happened.

The purchaser has been kind enough to permit me to show them here as a warning to other collectors and has advised me as follows; "The photos looked rather convincing, but when the miniatures arrived I immediately had doubts about the frames & the labels. Also, there's a small plate of glass attached between the frame and the miniature, which I find rather surprising. My doubts were proven right -I fear- when I noticed that the same seller offered another Gillespie miniature in exactly the same frame, with cracks and dirt on precisely the same places."

The characteristics of the fakes are high quality subjects by famous artists, presumably photo-copied from a catalogue, although I do not know which catalogue. These two examples have a fake label of James Gillespie on the rear. I understand others have a similar fake label of Barrett, marked "Barret Miniature and portrait painter, Holborn Bars, London". The fake works are nothing like those of Gillespie and Barrett, of which there are genuine examples in this collection available for comparison purposes.

One of the sellers on eBay is maxw1664 but I think there are others. Some points are obvious, in that genuine miniatures would not be in the white imitation piano-key type frame, but the frame of the man is harder to pick. Also showing is another modern fake of a lady in a red dress, which may be from the same source, but which is not described as a reproduction.

The man is an example of what is being offered on eBay with a starting price of £10.00 and is described as "Facsimile portrait miniature of a naval officer in a traditional acorn hanger frame with brass fittings and convex glass. The frame and fittings have been slightly "distressed" to give a more authentic "antiqued" finish. Overall size 125 x 150mm. The image is a true copy of an original portrait miniature, printed unto paper".

All I can suggest is that you be very careful and seek a guarantee from the seller.

1 comment:

  1. Today March 1st 2014, at the Antique Market Fair in Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy, a collection of 8 "James Gillespie" miniatures very similar to the ones in your article were being sold at 80 euros each. Luckily, I always carried with me my magnifying glass and could easily determine they were photocopies. The frames and the labels were aged. It seems this problem is spreading. Beware!