Sunday, December 02, 2007

December 2007 - Additions

The current year will soon start to draw to a close, but the pre Christmas lull gives an opportunity to record some additions which were a little delayed in arrival.

There are three miniatures, one each from America, Britain, and Germany. Also two art accessories which are associated with specific American miniature painters.

The first of these is a red leather miniature case from around 1825-1830. The case is not in good condition, but what is interesting is that it has a trade label for Daniel Dickinson printed on the interior silk. Unfortunately the case did not contain a miniature by the artist.

Enhanced and close up images are shown here. The inscription appears to read; "D Dickinson - Miniature Painter - at Earles - Chestnut above 5 - PHIL" . This means his studio was at Earles in Chestnut Street, Philadelphia".

From the reference at Inventory of Trade Cards at the American Antiquarian Society it appears that Earles Galleries sold looking glasses at 816 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. The gallery was operated by the Philadelphia framer James S Earle & Son. Thus it seems probable Earles were the framers for portraits and miniatures by Daniel Dickinson.

The reference to "above 5", probably means that one should go up Chestnut St, i.e. up past "5th Street".
I have not been able to confirm that Earles had more than one shop in Chestnut St, but it would appear so, as further below the Metropolitan Museum quotes a reference to Earles at 169 Chestnut St.

Earle's must have been at 816 Chestnut St for some time, as a painting by Rembrandt Peale dated to 1808, is inscribed Earles Galleries 816 Chestnut St, see Rembrandt Peale / Portrait of Edward Shippen Burd of Philadelphia ... and in 1851 there is a reference to 816 Chestnut St at The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Works of Art: American Paintings ...

Some Internet references mention that Earles were photographers late in the 19C. This was a natural development for a seller of mirrors. A further reference at Robert Cushman Butler Collection of Theatrical Illustrations mentions Earl's (sic) Galleries in 1901 but it is not clear if they were still at 816 Chestnut St.

A kind visitor has pointed out that the Metropolitan Museum holds a leather case with a printed trade label for Daniel Dicksinson. The image is not available on-line to compare with this one, but according to the Metropolitan website the wording is different, as is the address for Earles. Their example reads "D. DICKINSON/ Miniature Painter/ at EARLES/ No. 169 Chestnut St/ PHILAD [on the rock-seat of a landscape scene of putto painting a miniature]".

Another kind visitor has advised that he possesses a printed trade card for Daniel Dickinson, with the same picture and wording as the one illustrated here.

In 2007 Earles are long gone and 816 Chestnut St is now occupied by a variety store, Super Dollar City However, it seems very likely mirrors are still available from this store, 200 years after Earles Galleries were selling mirrors at the very same address!

Earles did various types of framing, including the oval Victorian fabric and hair arrangement shown here, which has their trade label on the reverse, but is not part of this collection.

Update - A kind Earle descendent has provided the following extra information. "Earle's gallery, Earl's Gallery (sometimes misspelled), James S. Earle & sons Gallery, were all names for the same gallery. The gallery moved at least 3 times, moving as their wealthy patrons moved, to more "elite" areas. I"m an Earle, and have done research on their locations (by going through old newspapers for advertising and through old Philadelphia address books) and have the auction pamphlet from when they closed down during the early part of the Great Depression.

The first Earle came to Philadelphia from England as a gilder, worked for someone else for a year and then went into his own business of framing and gilding. Eventually added "looking glasses", did indeed do photographs (many of visiting actors and actresses) and went on to become a gallery, exhibiting great artists of the time from both Europe and America. For a time, the Earles were in partnership with Sully who did the art buying and added a certain authority to the gallery. They were friends and we have a few paintings of family members by Sully in early Earle frames. I believe EG was the first to exhibit a black american artist, Tanner."

Daniel Dickinson (1795-1866) was the younger brother of Anson Dickinson (1779-1852). Daniel studied drawing in New Haven, but in 1818 he moved to Philadelphia where he worked as a portrait and miniature painter until 1846, before settling in New Haven, CT in 1847.

In the Cincinnati Art Collection there is a similar case which includes a label printed on the interior silk of a case, but advertising Daniel Dickinson's brother, Anson. This can be seen as fig 46 on page 140 of Aronson. However, the design of that case is different.

Unfortunately the wording of the advertisement has not been transcribed into "Perfect Likeness" and the image is too blurred to be sure of the wording, but it appears to read "A Dickinson Miniature ...... NEW YORK".

Apparently, Anson Dickinson used such cases between 1825 and the early 1830's. Which of the brothers was the first to use them and/or if they ordered them together is not clear.

The second item associated with an artist is a porcelain painter's palette. This belonged to the miniature painter John Ramsier. The palette was purchased at an estate sale of his son Elmer Ramsier and is accompanied by a notarised letter of authenticity.

There are several miniature portraits by John Ramsier in this collection and so he most likely used this palette when he painted those miniatures.

The American miniature was acquired from Thomaston, ME. Initially, I had hesitantly attributed this miniature to William Hudson Jr (1787-1861) of Boston who was active in Boston from 1829 to 1856.

However, a kind visitor has since told me the miniature is by Walter R Herve, who was active in Boston in the late 1820's and probably into the 1830's. Hopefully, this attributed example will now help other collectors to identify more of Walter Herve's work.

The sitter can be confidently commented upon. He is Captain Benjamin Leach Allen (1803-1865) of Manchester, Essex, MA and his family tree is well documented, with this miniature already being copied to the Allen family tree on the Internet.

He was interim Mayor of Boston in 1853 during a contested election. He is referred to as a Captain, but has not been found in the census records, presumably because he was at sea. For more about the 1853 Boston Election and to see a sampler tapestry made by his mother-in-law in 1793 go to View

The British miniature of William Pitt the Younger is by an unknown artist. The miniature appears to be copied from an engraving, itself copied from a large oil portrait by John Hoppner of around 1805.

William Pitt the Younger (28 May 1759 – 23 January 1806) was the son of William Pitt the Elder (1708-1778), who was Prime Minister of Great Britain (1766-1768).

William Pitt the Younger was the youngest ever Prime Minister of Great Britain, initially between (1783-1801) and again between (1804-1806).

Miniatures of William Pitt are uncommon, but in this collection there is another miniature of Pitt painted by John Donaldson (1737-1801) from life, when Pitt was twenty years younger, see View

More about this second miniature and the original it was copied from can be seen at View

The last of this group of additions is a miniature of an unknown lady painted by Franz Till of Dresden in Germany around 1900.

It is painted on porcelain, but may possibly be on a faint photographic base. Even so the painting technique is difficult as the pigments change colour when fired in a kiln.

Although the identity of the sitter is unknown, it is known she was a patient at the famous von Hartungen health spa in the north of Italy.

This spa was frequented by many famous people of that time including Franz Kafka and Sigmund Freud. There is more information about the spa at View


Colin said...

Kudo's on a great article on Earle's Art Gallery. If you have any contact info on the "kind Earle descendent", I'd like to get in touch. I too am an Earle descendent and I've traced my line back to a nephew of the original proprietor of the gallery (I think). Thanks for any help you (or anyone else) can provide.

Dan Breslin said...

I have a website on a painting by Thomas Eakins that was framed in Earles'Galleries in 1899. At that time it was located at 816 Chestnut Street in Phila. On my website, I have a posting on Earles' Galleries. Why not view it? Now I have a few questions. I am still doing research. When did they go out of business? What ever happened to all the transaction receipts that Earles' Galleries accumulated in all the years that they were in business. Are they archived anywhere? Please reply to: