Friday, March 09, 2007

April 2007 - American miniatures

There seems to have been an above average number of opportunities to acquire interesting miniatures recently.

Thus, there are four miniatures this month, all of which are by American artists. The first is a charming portrait of a young lady by William John Thomson (1771-1845), which was painted in 1820.

Thomson was born in Savannah, Georgia, but spent his working life in England and Scotland, where he was offered a knighthood, but declined it.

For more detail see Thomson, William John - portrait of young lady

The second miniature has been attributed to Henry Benbridge (1744-1812), one of the earliest American miniature painters.

Benbridge tended to favour very small portraits and this one is a little over one inch high.

His work seems to be of variable quality, but this miniature does seem to demonstrate his painting characteristics.

The sitter is unknown, but does appear to have the initials "A T", as the rear of the gold locket case is engraved with these initials.

For more about it see Benbridge, Henry - portrait of A T

The third is a portrait of an unidentified young man which has been attributed to Alvan Clark (1804-1887) who initially worked in New York, but later moved to Boston.

Alvan Clark was a very accomplished artist, but gave up his painting career to make telescopes, for which he became very famous. There is a comprehensive biography about him written by Deborah Warner.

This sitter is believed to be the husband of the lady wearing a grey-mauve dress and housed in a mother-of-pearl case, who appears in the January 2007 additions.

For the reasons behind the attribution see
Clark, Alvan - portrait of a man

The fourth portrait is by a rare artist whose miniatures have never been seen by this collector before and no other examples have so far been located.

The sitter is unknown, but inside the case it is signed "I.Bradley Fecit 1834" for John Bradley who was active in New York between 1832 and 1846.

Large oil portraits by him can be found in various collection, but to date no other miniature, although he is recorded in Blattel as a miniature painter.

The hanger used on the case is also unusual and has not previously been seen on a chased case like this before, although no doubt examples do exist. For more see Bradley, John - portrait of a man

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