December 2012 - The Tansey Collection

Tansey Collection Catalogues

Last month I mentioned a conference on miniature portraits in Germany, timed to coincide with the publishing of a fifth catalogue of a selection of the miniature portraits held in the superb Tansey Collection.

I have now received a copy of the latest catalogue, all five of which are published through the kind courtesy of Mr and Mrs Tansey.

I therefore thought it appropriate to draw the attention of visitors to the catalogue and its predecessors. The five catalogues appear here in order of publication.

They are each 300mm x 240m (A4) size, with up to 500 pages on high quality paper. Each miniature is depicted in full colour with an opposing page discussing the artist and/or sitter.

Each catalogue has one or more essays about miniature portraits at the beginning of the volume.

The first four volumes are directed at German speakers as the text is all in German, but for those interested in studying the skill of the artists that is a minor problem. For example, in comparing other works in seeking to attribute miniatures to a particular artist.

The latest volume has both German and English text, hence it is even more accessible for non-German speakers. 

The first Miniaturen aus der Sammlung Tansey (Miniatures in the Tansey Collection) was published in 2000. This is of 327 pages and depicts 145 miniatures.

The second Miniaturen des 19.Jaherhunderts aus der Sammlung Tansey (Miniatures of the 19C in the Tansey Collection) was published in 2002. This is of 336 pages and depicts 133 miniatures.

The third Miniaturen der Revolutionszeit 1789-1799 aus der Sammlung Tansey (Miniatures of the Revolutionary Times 1789-1799 in the Tansey Collection) was published in 2005. This is of 420 pages and depicts 167 miniatures.

The fourth Miniaturen des Rokoko aus der Sammlung Tansey (Rococo Miniatures in the Tansey Collection) was published in 2008.This is of 428 pages and depicts 167 miniatures.

The fifth Miniaturen der Zeit Marie Antoinettes aus der Sammlung Tansey (Miniatures from the Time of Marie Antoinette in the Tansey Collection) has just been published in late 2012. This is of 500 pages and depicts 168 miniatures with the text in both German and English.

A feature of this fifth volume are several full page coloured images near the front which enable one to see the detail and stand in awe of the artists' skill. The images are even closer up than those featured on the various covers showing here. In fact I find that the closer I can get to the magnified images, the less I am able to comprehend how the artist ever painted such a miniature.

The volume also includes essays by Bernd Pappe, Gerrit Walczak, Nathalie Lemoine-Bouchard, Bernardo Falconi, and Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten.

For anyone interested in acquiring copies of the catalogues, they are often available for reasonable prices via which is where I acquired volumes I to III several years ago.

I do not know how many miniatures are in the Tansey collection altogether, but every miniature depicted is of superb quality, thereby illustrating the expert eyes of Mr and Mrs Tansey and their advisors.

The collection has been largely assembled in recent years, but even in the time since it was started, I venture to suggest it would now be virtually impossible to commence to buy, and bring together, a collection of similar quality.

Although there is a large number of miniatures displayed in this Artists and Ancestors Collection, I readily admit that few of them are of sufficient quality to stand beside the portraits in the Tansey Collection, which is also backed up by the website at  The Tansey Collection

Unfortunately, most private collections of miniatures are just that, "private" and so not viewable by the general public, nor by those appreciative of artistic skill and art history. Hence Mr and Mrs Tansey are to be commended upon funding a public display of their collection and subsidising the accompanying catalogues.   

As I mentioned last month the conference is in Germany and titled "European Portrait Miniatures". It will be held on 25-27 January 2013. The organizers are;
Bernd Pappe, Bern, Art Historian and Restorer
Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten, Celle, Head of the Residence Museum at Celle Castle
Gerrit Walczak, Berlin, Art Historian, Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin
For more information and for registration, please contact

Details of the conference location and the full timetable are available at EUROPEAN PORTRAIT MINIATURES It is clear from the timetable that there is an outstanding range of speakers. From the timetable it appears that the conference will be in English and it appears that attendance is free for both the conference and the exhibition. Hence those interested and able to travel to the conference, should try and include it in their itineraries.

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