The following auction snippets about American miniatures may be of interest.
Bonhams and Butterfields
On 29 Oct 2007 Bonhams and Butterfields offered this James Peale as lot 1026. It was described as "James Peale (1749-1831, American) Portrait miniature on ivory. Unidentified member of Bealle-Johnson-Bullein-Kelsall family dated 1785. Depicted facing right, wearing a powdered wig, black coat, vest and white cravat, signed IP 1785, within a 14k gold glazed pendant frame with glazed reverse on a 14k gold chain. Height of image 1 3/4in (4.5cm) Includes copy of letter of authentication from the Peale Family Papers, The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Lillian B. Miller editor of 'The Peal Family Papers' attributes this miniature to James Peal for several reasons. Firstly the signature, IP with the date below matches his other known portraits. Secondly the tentative handling suggests an earlier work. Some of these early characteristics include an angularity of the face and the handling of the hair. By 1786 his brother Charles Willson Peale felt that James had sufficiently mastered his craft to leave the field of miniature portraiture solely to his brother."
Estimate: $8,000/12,000 - Auction result: Unsold
Sales by the major UK auction houses rarely include American miniatures, which is the major focus of this collection. However, in November, Bonhams of London offered a group of American miniatures and some of those are shown here.
Bonham's Lot 297 Two children and a dog by John Carlin, sold for GBP2700
Lot 298 Man, circle of John Wood Dodge, not sold
Lot 299 Four children, circle of John Carlin, not sold
Bonham's Lot 300 George Washington by Edward Savage, sold for GBP13,000
Lot 301 Man in dark coat, circle of James Peale, not sold. (subsequent advice by a kind visitor is that this is actually by Pierre Henri)
Lot 302 Man in grey coat by James Peale, sold for GBP7000
Bonham's Lot 303 Elias Vanderhorst by unknown artist, sold for GBP1100
Lot 304 John Brooks after Gilbert Stuart, not sold
Lot 305 English artillery officer by Archibald Robertson, not sold
Bonham's Lot 306 Young ensign by Anson Dickinson, sold for GBP2400
Lot 307 Young man, circle of Edward Greene Malbone, not sold
Lot 308 Young lady by Anson Dickinson, sold for GBP2000
Bonham's Lot 309 Man by Joseph Wood, sold for GBP2000
Lot 311 Man by Robert Field, sold for GBP5000
Lot 312 Lady, American school, not sold
Bonhams Lot 314 Man by Thomas Gimbrede, sold for GBP600
Lot 315 Man by Nathaniel Rogers, sold for GBP1600
Lot 316 Man by Thomas Seir Cummings, sold for GBP1800
Bonhams Lot 317 Man by George Catlin, sold for GBP1000
Lot 320 Man by Thomas Seir Cummings, sold for GBP3000
Lot 321 Young lady by Anson Dickinson, not sold
Lot 322 Young man by Thomas Badger, not sold
It is noticeable that most of those clearly attributed to artists were sold.
In all cases, buyer's commission and taxes need to be added to the hammer prices shown above.
None of the above miniatures were acquired for this collection.
An unusual miniature sold by Skinners on 29 November with a hammer price of $750 was the one shown here.
It was described as "Portrait Miniature of a Two-Star General, possibly Massachusetts, 19th century, watercolor, gouache, and metallic pigments reverse-painted on oval glass, (paint losses to background), 2 1/2 x 2 in."