December - Two additions and re-discovering sitters

Properly looked after, miniature portraits can have a life of hundreds of years. Many of those painted on ivory can already be 300 years old, and there is no reason why they should not last for another 300 years, if not 1,000 years.

Depicted here are two miniature portraits, one of a man by an unidentified artist, and one of a lady discovered to be by the American miniature painter, John Henry Brown, which provide me with an opportunity to climb again onto one of my hobby horses.
1 Please, please record the name of each sitter securely with each miniature.
2 If dire financial circumstances, or the end of a family line, dictate there is no one to inherit a miniature, please, please do not remove the name of the sitter if it has to be sold.

The historical interest is far greater for a known sitter. Even from a monetary point of view, the value is far greater with an identity, and far less without an identity.

The portrait of the man is only identified by the initials "TH" on the rear and that of the lady was offered for sale as an unknown lady by an unknown artist.

What was initially devastating to discover, was the realisation on opening the miniature of the lady that a previous owner had tried to remove the name of the sitter, leaving only the paper residue as shown here.

It has not been possible to identify the artist or sitter in the portrait of the man, see View but the detective work leading to the identification of John Henry Brown as the artist for the portrait of the lady, and her identity as Mrs Emily Hinds, is set out at View Also there are a number of other miniature portraits by John Henry Brown showing for comparison.

It is very rare to be able to discover the name of an apparently unknown sitter, so to do so is quite thrilling. Just imagine what might have been discovered about the man if his identity could also be rediscovered!

Other News
If any Wall Street banksters with huge bonuses to spend should read this post, they could do a lot worse as investments, than to have bid on a huge collection of high quality miniature portraits recently offered for sale on eBay for $356,000 or offer as eBay item 300626136340. I have not tried to estimate the value, but there are many nice miniatures in the collection which can currently be seen at> It represents an opportunity for a public art gallery or museum to form the nucleus of a world class collection of miniature portraits.

Barrett fakes
In contrast, Barrett fakes are again circulating, see eBay item 110786470377 - priced at £175 and as pictured here.

I told the vendor it was a fake, but he has refused to withdraw it. The frame is of resin, and the portrait is a print. Barrett never even painted portraits in this style.

Hence, I recommend that potential bidders should not buy on eBay from the vendor who sells under the name

Society medallions
Recently sold on eBay were two interesting medallions or tokens. One, sold for £386, was described as "this very unusual, Georgian, white metal medal, which was given as a prize in 1819. Engraved around the edge, it reads; 'To Mr Matthew Shepperson, for the best copy made in The School of Painting, Dec.10 1819'. The front with bust of King George III and the otherside with a study of the body. Matthew Shepperson was a fairly well known Georgian artist. This must be his medallion received from The Royal Academy."

The other, sold for £285 was described as "unusual, oxbone (sic -s/be ivory) medallion, which has been engraved with; 'Royal Academy Antique School 1768', to the other side Matthew Shepperson Anug 9 1816'. Matthew Shepperson was a fairly well known Georgian artist. This must be his medallion received from The Royal Academy. ."

I agree that the first one seems to be a prize medal, but I am not as sure about the second, which I had assumed to be a membership ticket rather than a prize, although I may be wrong.

In this collection there is a similar 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".

In over ten years of following eBay I have only seen one other example of the ivory ticket, so they are not common. Prize medals are also rare, as with the one below, which is the only example in this collection.

It is a silver medal awarded to Gisetta Mava Yale by the Cooper Union. It is 37 mm in diameter. On the front it is inscribed "Cooper Union - New York - Qui non proficit deficit - Founded May 25th 1859". On the reverse it is inscribed "Awarded to Gisetta Mava Yale - Miniature Painting from Life". The medal is housed in an original leather case. The retailers mark inside is rubbed, but appears to read "H Popper & Son - 402 5th Ave. and (?) 101 (?) Fulton Street - New York".

So far no other record has been found for this artist and only one other example of the medal has been seen. The artist must have been very competent and, judging by the inscription, it seems it was awarded for painting miniature portraits. The date of issue is not apparent, but was probably around 1900. An enquiry has been made of Cooper Union, but no reply was received.

Recently this reference to the Cooper Union Prize was found in the NYT of 2 June 1909. The only other instance so far located of a medal like this, is a single bronze medal in the NYHS eMuseum. That one was awarded to Helen M Turner for oil painting portrait and is dated 1899. Thus it is possible that more silver, and bronze examples exist.

No comments:

Post a Comment