Friday, January 12, 2007

January 2007 - American miniatures

The 2007 year has commenced with the addition of four American miniature portraits to the collection.

The first one is of a young lady wearing a pale grey-mauve dress. It dates to around 1860. It is unsigned and the sitter unidentified. Originally it was attributed to Moses Russell, but that has been been changed to Alvan Clark. It comes in a rare period mother-of-pearl case shown here in a reduced size. Occasionally these cases were used for daguerreotypes, but this is the first time a miniature has been seen in a case like this.

For more about it see Clark, Alvan - portrait of lady in pale lilac dres... Her husband appears as an April addition.

The second American one is particularly unusual, as it is a self-portrait by Katherine Starr (1869-1943) who was born in Missouri and died in Los Angeles see Starr, Katharine Payne - portrait of self

Self-portraits are very special, as they really do indicate how the artist saw themselves.

When the portrait case was opened, there was found inside the following inscription " "The Old Sofa" or "When Grandmama Wore Pink" self portrait from photo taken in 1912 and modernised in 1935. Katharine Payne Starr pinxit".

The close up shows the quality of her painting, which is not so obvious in the full portrait. As an indication of size, on the original the distance between her two pupils is one quarter of an inch.

The other two portraits are both of men and came from the New Jersey area.

One is a profile, similar to the style of J H Gillespie, but may not be by him, as Gillespie tended to favour pale backgrounds see Unknown - portrait of man in profile
The second is a fairly large miniature at 4 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches.
This is attributed to Thomas Seir Cummings on the basis of its similarity to the miniature by him, fig 42 in the Manney Collection which is the same size, has a similar background, and also a similar pose. Two miniatures by Cummings which were sold as lot 815 in the Skinner sale of 5 November 2006, also have a similar background where there is a vertical change of colour shade. Again the quality of the painting is shown in the close up. This portrait is included in the American 1 Gallery.

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