September 2012 - A Book and a Seminar

Domenico Bossi
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in collecting and researching miniature portraits. Particularly in Europe there are a number of dedicated scholars who are putting many hours into the subject and publishing important new reference books.

The newest addition to those books discusses the life and work of Domenico Bossi (1767-1853), who was born in Italy but worked in several of the major capitals of Europe. See Domenico Bossi 1767-1853 - Scripta

The joint authors are Bernardo Falconi and Bernd Pappe who have both previously published large and well illustrated books on miniatures. Bernardo primarily on Italian artists and Bernd in a series of catalogues of the world famous Tansey Collection in Germany. The Tansey Miniature Collection Copies of their titles appear from time to time on book selling sites like and are worth acquiring for the passionate collector.

In this particular instance Bernardo and Bernd have kindly taken pity on ignorant collectors, like myself, who do not speak Italian, German, or French! As befitting the artist's nationality, the book is in Italian, but pages 203-255 give a complete translation into English. The full title is Domenico Bossi 1767-1853 From Venice to Northern Europe the Career of a Master of the Miniature Portrait.

I think most collectors find they have a favourite artist or two. This often arises from an early purchase which then tend to make one's eye more alert to the style and to appreciate the skill of that artist. In the United States, Nathaniel Rogers is my favourite artist, but in Continental Europe it is Domenico Bossi. Generally his work is too expensive for me to purchase, but on three occasions I have bought miniatures cheaply which later turned out to be by Bossi.

Bernardo and Bernd were kind enough to include two of them in this book. The one that developed my interest in Bossi being the lower of the two depicted here and acquired in 2000, as the first quality European miniature I was ever fortunate enough to purchase. With the kind assistance of miniature expert, Bodo Hofstetter, I was able at the time to learn the name of the sitter, Madame Neuwall, and that the portrait had once been in the famous von Ritter collection.

Now, Anna Maria Zuccotti, has added further to my knowledge with her research and a detailed description (far better than I could write!) of the miniature.
"This miniature shows Henrietta Herz (1794-1847), the wife of Augustin Marcus von Neuwall, a wealthy Austrian banker of Jewish origin, raised to the rank of baron of the Habsburg Empire in 1817, for having contributed financially to the victorious wars of 1813-1824 against Napoleon. The image is dominated by the enchanting appeal of the twenty-year-old woman, in all her radiant beauty, shrouded by the idealised aura of classical antiquity. The ethereal transparency of the lace along the wide neckline of the white tunic, the shot silk reflections of the green shawl, together with the refined hairstyle of graceful ringlets down he slender neck and the beautiful forehead, bring out the whiteness of the sitter's complexion, her seductive form and the face with the slightest hint of a smile that reveals the entertainment of a pleasant thought. Apart from this portrait, executed in 1816, Bossi also portrayed the baroness with her husband and two children in a drawing dated 1819."

In early 2011 I attended a local auction and spotted a miniature I thought was by Bossi. Fortunately neither the auction house nor the other potential bidders had noticed that it was signed by him, and dated 1795, so it was possible to bid successfully. On mentioning the miniature to Bernardo and Bernd, they asked me to send a photo as it was an excellent example of his style at that time, when he tended to paint faces in a monochromatic style, with very clever use of tone and shadow. Although the sitter is unknown, Bernd describes the miniature;  
In another miniature, painted in 1795, we can recognise that style of male portraiture encountered in the depiction of Frederick William II of Prussia, executed by Bossi around 1790: the head tilted backwards, emphasising the mouth and chin, gives the figure an arrogant and condescending air.

This style is more apparent in the colour version of the miniature and its comparison with the third miniature by Bossi in this collection. That is unsigned but is of Carl-Ludwig (1755-1801), Hereditary Prince of Baden. The pose and monchromatic facial colouring are very similar. There is another version of this miniature by Bossi in the National Museum of Warsaw, Poland. 290, 492, 1409

Nathalie Lemoine-Bouchard
The miniature of Henrietta Herz, Madame Neuwall, leads into a second item of news. Nathalie Lemoine-Bouchard is another knowledgeable scholar of miniature portraits. In 2008 she authored an outstanding dictionary of French artists along with those from other countries who had worked in France, including Bossi. It is titled "Les Peintres en Miniature 1650-1850" and Nathalie kindly included in the dictionary a number of examples from this collection including that of Madame Neuwall. It is in French, but it is easy to follow, has many illustrations and hence is invaluable in learning more about the artists who worked in France

Since then Nathalie has continued her research into French artists. She has produced a series of supplements on newly discovered French artists and new works by known artists, which she makes available by way of an online newsletter. Nathalie has also commenced to act as a consultant and dealer in fine French miniatures at Lemoine-Bouchard Fine Arts Nathalie has also authored other books about miniatures which from time to time are available on

For anyone who is able to attend the seminar, Nathalie advises the 2nd International Seminar La miniature en Europe, is being held in Paris, 11-12 October 2012; with 25 lecturers, some presented in French and some in English. The Programme is available online and can be translated into English, it can be seen at her website - Translate this page
Deuxième colloque international La Miniature en Europe. Le 2e colloque international La miniature en Europe se tiendra à Paris les jeudi 11 et vendredi 12 ...

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