Thursday, July 19, 2007

July 2007 - American miniatures

In July there have been some interesting American miniatures added into the collection.

This particular group comprising seven American miniatures from the late 18C through to the early 20C.

Initially, the first two were believed to be examples by the Sully brothers, although some later discussion has leaned away from attributing the lady in white to Lawrence Sully (1769-1804) see Unknown - portrait of a Southern Lady

The second miniature of a girl with bare shoulders and a basket may be by his brother Thomas Sully (1783-1872), see Sully, Thomas - portrait of a young lady.

This is a little unusual as a miniature, as by far the majority showed the sitter only, without any "props". It is possible that this study was copied from a large oil portrait.

Another miniature in complete contrast of style of clothing, is one of a slightly older girl wearing a full and dark dress and sitting on a chair. It is signed and dated 1835 by Moses B Russell (1810-1884).

His wife, Mrs Moses B Russell (Clarissa Peters Russell) is now better known than her husband. However Moses was himself highly regarded as a portraitist in the 19C.

This miniature is from Moses B Russell's better period, as his quality seemed to deteriorate after 1840, probably due the need for him to complete miniatures more quickly and so compete on price with photography.

Photography became increasingly popular after the introduction of daguerreotypes which spread rapidly as a technique from around 1840.

For more about the portrait see Russell, Moses B - portrait of a young lady

Acquired together, were four miniatures with three of them at least related to one another. The young girl is Jane Spottswood Keller by Otto Eckardt.

The one adjacent to her is believed to be her father, David Alexander Keller, who was a cousin of the famous author Helen Keller, see Eckardt, Otto - portrait of Jane Spottswood Keller...

Rounding off the selection is an important sitter in the portrait on the left of the bottom pair.

The older man looks like a photograph, but it is in fact a painting of Hon James Guthrie. It has been attributed to John Ramsier, a Kentucky artist noted for his ability to make his paintings imitate photographs.

James Guthrie (1792-1868) was Secretary to the Treasury and must have been one of the wealthiest men in Kentucky, as in the 1860 census, he disclosed personal assets of $500,000. For much more about him see Ramsier, John - portrait of Hon James Guthrie

The last one is of a Confederate veteran John F Henry who was also an author. There is much more about him with the Eckardt portrait at Eckardt, Otto - portrait of Jane Spottswood Keller...

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