Wednesday, September 12, 2007

September 2007 - Additions and research

So far, September has been quiet for arrivals, but quite a lot of research has taken place. Some of this has been greatly assisted by very helpful comments from visitors to the website.

Partially, as a result of this, I think this Recent Additions section is likely to become more "blog-like" with comments on other matters, such as research, rather than straight additions.

The first miniature shown here is unusual in that it is painted on board. There are only a couple of other miniatures in the collection that are painted on board, both by a French artist and of similar date, 1849. The one here is American and dated on the reverse, December 1845, it has been attributed to Richard Morrell Staigg (1817-1881). For more detail see Staigg, Richard Morrell - portrait of a man

For the French examples on board, see Le Clercq, Marie - portrait of a man and Le Clercq, Marie - portrait of a lady

Miniatures can be painted on many different bases and in this collection some of the more unusual British examples are; marble by Carrick, Thomas Heathfield - portrait of a lady, porcelain by Kean, Michael - portrait of Mrs Samuel Keys, and several American examples are on milk glass.

Unfortunately, the second miniature does not have great artistic quality, but is interesting for the sitter. The miniature is signed and dated J B Alexander 1911, who is probably an unrecorded artist and seems unlikely to be connected with the J B Alexander who worked in Charleston. Because of the similarity of name, it is currently included under American, but may well be British.

The sitter is the famous Scottish poet James Hogg (1779-1835 ) and the miniature appears to be based on an 1876 engraving, which in turn is based upon a 1830 oil portrait, see Alexander, J B - portrait of James Hogg

Corrections and Attributions

Turning to research. I am very grateful indeed to any expert willing to make or correct attributions. Some of the very helpful people who have assisted me with the collection are mentioned under Art Collecting Links

This month a number of corrections have been advised to me. My own attributions (guesses??) are made in good faith, but I recognise my knowledge and experience is limited. As a major purpose of the website is to help spread knowledge of the subject, the more accurate the content is, the more use it is to other researchers.

Corrections this month have meant that some of my attributions have needed to be withdrawn, some changed, and some added. In case they are of interest, the key items advised by one very kind visitor are as follows.

Cior, Charles Pierre - portrait of H Michel The apparent signature is believed to be the sitter, not the artist who has now been recognised as Charles Pierre Cior.
Bouvier - portrait of a man Wrongly attributed by me to Pierre Louis Bouvier, but is by the "other Bouvier" who continued working after the date of Pierre Louis Bouvier's death
Carriera, Rosalba - portrait of a girl Wrongly attributed by me to Fragonard, but more probably a badly retouched portrait by Rosalba Carriera.
Noireterre, Marie Therese de - portrait of man wit... This preliminary attribution by an earlier visitor, has been endorsed.
Pinhas, Jude Low - portrait of Frederick the Great... Wrongly attributed by me to Anton Friedrich Konig, but probably by Juda Low Pinhas who painted in a very similar style to Konig.
Le Tellier, Jean-Bapiste Joseph - portrait of a so... Previously unattributed, but now attributed to Jean-Baptiste Joseph Le Tellier
Unknown - portrait of a naval officer Wrongly attributed by me to Carl Johann Frederik Viertel, but now by an unknown artist.
Gobert, Antoine Nicolas Martial - portrait of girl... Signature previously read as Jobert, but the signature is that of Antoine Nicolas Martial Gobert. Research has now identified his full name which is listed in Blattel only as Martial Gobert. As this miniature is dated 1817 and he was married in 1818, it pushes his likely date of birth back before the previous estimate of 1800.
Brunschweiler, Hans Joachim - portrait of a man Previously unattributed, but now attributed to Hans Joachim Brunschweiler who rarely signed his work.
Unknown - portrait of James Wills Wrongly attributed by me to Christian Freidrich Zincke, but now by an unknown artist.

In addition another kind visitor has advised that one of the Eliot family portraits in the Guest Gallery is actually by William Wood.

Other corrections or comments are very welcome, as they will help reduce my inner sense of embarrassment at the number of unrecognised errors that must still remain!

Other Matters
A visitor to the website has advised me of a recently stolen miniature. To try and aid recovery, the image is shown here, but it has has been added to the Guest Gallery, with more detail, as Stolen Miniature of a Man

Needless to say, miniatures disposed of from the collection do not require comment, but sometimes a proposed disposal needs to be halted when a little more research is done.

Such as example is Unknown - portrait of Nathaniel Gilman When this was originally scanned and added to the website, I forgot it was inscribed inside "N Gilman, Waterville". Thus it was just another "unknown sitter by unknown artist" in a damaged case, which was recently put on one side with a view to sale.

However, in "rediscovering" the inscription inside and some resultant research over the last few days, has determined the sitter is so interesting that he will need to remain in the collection.

He is now believed to be Nathaniel Gilman III, the elder brother of George Francis Gilman the founder of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, who died intestate in 1901, reputedly worth $40,000,000. George Francis Gilman has been described as the "P T Barnum" of the grocery business.

As a result of his dying intestate, there was a major legal wrangle over the estate, with claims by multiple persons, some of them seemingly "lady" friends, one even being a Katherine Kupfer, the daughter of his barber. The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company grew even larger after the Gilman stake was sold in 1901 and at its peak in the 1930's there were 15,700 stores in the chain.

For a 1901 New York Times account of the dispute which comments, "Perhaps a strange a fact as any in this most peculiar case is that most of those who contest a share in the tea merchant's estate very cordially hated George Francis Gilman while he lived." see

This type of research is fascinating, especially with the extra records available for 19C and 20C portraits, and is thus seen as much more enjoyable than collecting landscapes!!

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