Monday

Peale, Charles Willson - portrait of Colonel Charles Pope

Followers of these posts about collecting miniature portraits will be aware that by far the majority of this Artists and Ancestors collection has been acquired at eBay online auctions. Previous to the year 2000 some miniatures had been acquired at local auctions and antique shops, but locating them was time consuming as they were rarely seen. That situation altered in the year 2000 with the ability to buy online, and at the same time an early interest was sparked in American miniature portraits as, compared to British and European miniatures, they seemed so little researched.

That paucity of available research still largely prevails for American miniatures, so this website has sought to "publish" personal research on American artists from time to time to assist museums and other collectors who find the lack of research handicaps their work. Partly as a result of publishing that research and displaying American miniatures in the collection on the website (about 400 American miniatures at present, plus 600 British and European miniatures), there seems to have become a greater knowledge and awareness of American miniatures in the market place and hence greater price competition when examples are offered for sale! That is perhaps the downside of sharing research! - but as additions to the collection are now less frequent and for unsual items, that competition is happily accepted as the sign of a maturing interest in the subject.

I have commented before, (as have many others!) that in any area of collecting, those collectors with unlimited financial resources can achieve a collection of the very best in their chosen field. That equally applies in collecting miniature portraits. However, as this collector, in common with most average collectors, has limited financial resources, it is readily acknowledged that there are many items in this collection which are of only average quality. Part of the reason for that is that an element of self-discipline has been to seek to maintain an average purchase price of $400. That has acted as a challenge in seeking interesting items and an increasing brake on personal spending as prices in the market rose! There is believed to be far more "fun" and a greater ability to learn, in buying 50 or 100 miniatures over an extended period for an average of $400 each, compared with buying a single rare American miniature by Charles Willson Peale for $20,000, or even $40,000 if the sitter is an important one.

Although the average target has been largely maintained, occasional splurges have threatened the average. The miniature portrait here is a case in point, where an unrecognised Charles Willson Peale was acquired for far below the market value.

It was offered on eBay UK in June 2014 as:
Fine Georgian portrait miniature of a gentleman in solid gold frame. Please find for sale an extremely fine quality Georgian portrait miniature of a gentleman. The portrait has been beautifully well painted and is housed in a 9ct solid gold,unmarked but fully tested, frame which measures 4.7cm x 3.7cm. The watercolour measures 4.2cm x 3.2cm. The total weight is 14.2 grammes. Is offered in good condition.

Hence it was effectively offered as a portrait of an unknown sitter by an unknown artist, with most British bidders making the understandable deduction that it was by a British artist of the 18C, although not by Smart, Meyer or other important British artists of the later 18C.

However, for those more interested in American miniatures, it was possible to recognise the artist as being perhaps the most famous of all American artists, Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), who painted both miniatures and large oils. There is minor paint lost on his shoulder, and the case may be a replacement, but it is the only Charles Willson Peale noticed as offered on eBay in 15 years. On opening it, it was found that although difficult to read, the backing paper included the name Pope. That is most likely the name of the sitter. A polite query was sent to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington about the miniature and seeking any knowledge of a Pope as a sitter, but there was no reply. Thus it has been necessary to try and identify the sitter from basic knowledge. The most likely sitter seems to be Charles Pope, although that is not certain. The Society of the Cincinnati has prepared an extensive biography of Pope at  http://desocietyofthecincinnati.org/sofcweb/Biographies.htm  as follows, which is gratefully acknowledged:

Charles Pope 
Colonel John Haslet's Delaware State Troops in Continental Service; Commissioned Captain (5th Company), 18 January 1776; Wounded at the Battle of Mamaroneck, New York, 21 October 1776; Colonel David Hall's Delaware Regiment, Continental Line; Commissioned Lieutenant-Colonel, 5 April 1777. Resigned (on account of wounds), 13 December 1779. 

Charles Pope, born in 1748 at Duck Creek Cross Roads, was both an Army and Naval officer in Delaware service during the American Revolution. A prosperous merchant before the war with Britain, Pope in 1775 raised a company of militia and prepared to leave his home and business to fight for the American cause. In January 1776 he was commissioned Captain by the Continental Congress and his unit was accepted into service as the Fifth Company of Colonel John Haslet's Regiment of Delaware State Troops. Prior to the Regiment's leaving the State, Pope's Company was detached to guard against incursions by crews of British ships on the Delaware and to suppress loyalist activities in Kent and Sussex Counties. 

In July the Company rejoined the Regiment and took part in the Battles of Long Island and Mamaroneck. Captain Pope was cited in reports for gallantly at Long Island. At Mamaroneck the Regiment made a daring night attack on the camps of loyalist rangers under Colonel Robert Rogers of French and Indian War fame. Unfortunately for the Americans, Rogers had been uneasy about his position and put a full company of troops where only individual sentries had been expected. When the Americans fell upon them In the dark the Loyalists added to the confusion by taking up their attackers' cries of "Surrender, you tory dogs!" The advanced company of the enemy finally broke and ran and a number of prisoners were taken, but the hated Colonel Rogers escaped. During the fight Captain Pope was wounded in the leg. 

The term of service of Haslet's Regiment expired at the end of 1776 and the following year Pope was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel of the Delaware Continental Regiment under David Hall. That same year Hall's Delaware Regiment fought in the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of Germantown, where Hall was wounded and Lieutenant Colonel Pope took command. While the Regiment rested in Wilmington during the winter of 1777-78 Delaware President George Read asked Pope to investigate reports of a British landing in Kent County. The invasion turned out to have been only a small raid that was over before Pope arrived. In April, however, Pope was again sent for when Cheney Clow attempted armed insurrection in Delaware, and this time he arrived in time to take action. Even as a detachment of Continentals was marching south from Wilmington Pope led a band of Delaware militia against the Tory "fort," routed its defenders without a serious fight, and captured about fifty of the Loyalists. Pope returned to his Regiment, which rejoined the main army in the spring, and led them at the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778. 

In June 1779 Pope was court-martialed on the charge of using a soldier of the Delaware regiment "in his domestic business in the spring and summer of 1778." The court found the charge "groundless" and "aquit him of it with honor." Later in the year he became ill and left the Army, retiring in December. Retirement from the Army was not the end of the War for Pope, however, and within a year he accepted command of the Delaware Navy, a small force of leased ships that was expected to protect the Delaware coast and river traffic. Pope himself commanded three different ships during the final years of the War. 

With the end of the War Pope returned to Duck Creek Crossroads and became quite rich. When he moved to Georgia in the closing years of the eighteenth century he sold a plantation of 270 acres with a house and new barn, a farm of 150 acres, a complex of wharves and grain storage buildings on the Duck Creek, a lot in the town of Duck Creek Crossroads on which stood a tavern and a tanyard, his original brick store in the center of town, and his town home consisting of two-storey brick house, nursery, kitchen, stable, carriage house, smoke house, and granary. Charles Pope was married twice. His first wife, Jane Stokesly, bore him five children, all sons. She died in 1793. Pope's second wife was Sarah Simpson, whom he married in 1799; there were no children. Pope died in Georgia on February 16, 1803, and was buried there on his farm in Columbia County.

However, the Cincinnati biography also displays this portrait said to be of Colonel Charles Pope. As will be obvious it is quite a different person, but it should be noted that his hair, side burns, and clothing more closely resemble those fashionable around 1810-1815 and he looks to be aged around 30 to 35 years old. Although appearing to be based upon a miniature portrait, the image was not painted by CW Peale, nor is it easily attributable to any other American artist of the late 18C. The soldier Charles Pope was born in 1748 and died in 1803, so it seems unlikely that this image is of that Charles Pope. Therefore he is more likely from the following generation, as Colonel Pope had a son also named Charles Pope, who was born on 26 Nov 1780 in Duck Creek Crossing, Smyrna, Kent, DE. He died on 30 November 1812 and thus better fits the fashions and age depicted in the Cincinnati portrait.

It is not uncommon for family histories to become garbled when passed on by word of mouth. A number of instances have arisen with this collection and in answering queries from visitors. Study of the clothing, hair, and any identification of the artist can often narrow down the search and sometimes enable an identification. Thus, in making a comparison with the Peale miniature, Colonel Charles Pope was born in 1748, and in 1778 he would have been aged 30, which better fits the hair and clothing depicted in the Peale miniature. Pope was also a successful man and thus quite likely to have commissioned Peale to paint a miniature portrait, as did many other officers at the time when Peale was busy painting many of them. 1495

Wednesday

Burt, Albin Roberts - portrait of Zerah Colburn

This miniature portrait was painted by a British artist in England, but has been included in an American Gallery as it is of a famous 19C American maths prodigy. The vendor did not realise that and so it was merely advertised as;
 Albin Roberts BURT (1783 – 1842) “Zerah Cobourn”. A portrait of a youthful Oxford academic bedecked in his gown, possibly an American as no British census records exist for the name Zerah Cobourn.

Some of the writing on the rear is hard to read, but Zerah Cobourn (for Colburn) can be read at the top. He was born on 1 September 1804 and died on 2 March 1839, being a child prodigy of the 19th century who gained fame as a mental calculator. There is more about him at Zerah Colburn (math prodigy) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia He also wrote a book about his life which is available at A memoir of Zerah Colburn: written by himself.

Albin Burt began his career as an engraver being a pupil of Robert Thew and Benjamin Smith. However, finding himself unable to excel in this department, he took to painting portraits. He worked at various locations and in 1817, the date of this miniature, his studio was at 113 High Street, Oxford. He often signed his miniatures verso,  AR Burt or simply Burt followed by a date and place. He was a successful miniaturist charging upwards of 3 guineas for a portrait on ivory. Burt exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1807 and 1830.






















Previous to the discovery of this portrait, the only known image of him was as a young boy in an engraving depicting Zerah Colburn at age nine, from a drawing done by F. Baily, Esq., done in London. In a close up of the portrait it is possible to see that, like his father and two brothers, Zerah was born with 24 digits. His six fingers are detectable in and enlargement of his left hand.As mentioned below, the extra fingers were removed by the polymath and surgeon, Sir Anthony Carlisle in 1815.

Colburn was born in Cabot, Vermont, in 1804. He was thought to be intellectually disabled until the age of seven. However, after six weeks of schooling his father overheard him repeating his multiplication tables. His father wasn't sure whether or not he learned the tables from his older brothers and sisters but he decided to test him further on his mathematical abilities and discovered that there was something special about his son when Zerah correctly multiplied 13 and 97. Colburn's abilities developed rapidly and he was soon able to solve such problems as the number of seconds in 2,000 years, the product of 12,225 and 1,223, or the square root of 1,449. When he was seven years old he took six seconds to give the numbers of hours in thirty-eight years, two months, and seven days. 1481

Zerah Colburn and his family were studied in detail by Sir Anthony Carlisle (1768-1840), one of the unsung heroes of the study of evolution who deserves far more attention than he has received. The following are some extracts from more research into Carlisle's study of evolution. Sadly, his personal papers are lost, so it has only been possible to determine the nature of his research from his published papers. Carlisle stressed the risks of inter-breeding and its consequent effect on species, in letters he wrote in 1838 to Alexander Walker where Carlisle used the phrase 'selecting the fit', twenty-six years before Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) wrote of 'survival of the fittest' in his "Principles of Biology" of 1864, and twenty years before Darwin wrote "On the Origin of Species".
The highly interesting subject upon which you are writing is remarkably suited to the passing time in our country. Our aristocracy, by exclusive intermarriages among ancient families, proceed blindly to breed in contempt of deformities, of feeble intellect, or of hereditary madness, under the instigation of pride or the love of wealth, until their race becomes extinct; while another portentous cause, that of unwholesome factories, threatens to deteriorate the once brave manhood of England. I believe that, among mankind, as well as domesticated animals, there are physical and moral influences which may be regulated so as to improve or predispose both the corporeal and moral aptitudes, and certainly the most obvious course is that of selecting the fit [my emphasis] progenitors of both sexes.i
i Carlisle, A, quoted in Walker, Alexander, Intermarriage, London, John Churchill, 1838, p ii

Much earlier, in fact 25 years earlier, prior to Christmas December 1813, Carlisle tabled a paper, which included mention of the Colburn family, to the Royal Society, On Monstrosity in the Human Species;
The following account of a family having hands and feet with supernumerary fingers and toes, and the hereditary transmission of the same peculiarity to the fourth generation appears to be worth preserving, since it displays the influence of each of the propagating sexes: the male and the female branches of the original stem having alike reproduced this redundancy of parts. ...
In every department of animal nature, accumulation of facts must always be desirable, that more reasonable inductions may be established concerning the laws which direct this interesting part of creation: and it might be attended with the most important consequences, if discovery could be made of the relative influence of the male and female sex in the propagation of peculiarities, and the course and extent of hereditary character could be ascertained, [my emphasis] both as it affects the human race in their moral and physical capacities, and as it governs the creatures which are subdued for civilized uses. Nor is it altogether vain to expect, that more profound views, and more applicable facts await the researches of men, who have as yet only begun to explore this branch of natural history, by subjecting it to physical rules. [my emphasis] … Though the causes which govern the production of organic monstrosities, or which direct the hereditary continuance of them may for ever remain unknown, it still seems desirable to ascertain the variety of those deviations, and to mark the course they take, where they branch out anew, and where they terminate. There is doubtless a general system in even the errors of nature, as is abundantly evinced by the regular series of monstrosity exhibited both in animals and vegetables. [my emphasis] … That local resemblances, such as those of external parts, the hands, the feet, the nose, the ears, and the eye-brows, are hereditary, is well known; and it is almost equally evident, that some parts of the internal structure are in like manner transmitted by propagation: we frequently see a family form of the legs and joints, which gives a peculiar gait, and a family character of the shoulders, both of which are derived from an hereditary similarity in the skeletons. Family voices are also very common and are ascribable to a similar cause. i

Instances of supernatural formation were traced by Carlisle through four successive generations from Zerah Colburn to his great grandmother. This woman had five fingers and a thumb on each hand, and six toes on each foot. She had eleven children, ten of whom are said to have had the same peculiarity complete; but one daughter, the grandmother of the Zerah, had one of her hands naturally formed. Of the next generation there were four persons. Abiah, the boy's father, and two others, had the peculiarity complete; but one of his uncles was like the grandmother, with one hand natural. The generation under study were eight in number, of whom four were naturally formed as their mother; the rest, including Zerah the calculator, had the peculiarity complete, with the exception of his eldest brother, who had one of his feet naturally formed. Carlisle had observed they were peculiar structures of hereditary decent and was acknowledging it was a natural event, whereas many at that time were taught by the Church it was punishment by a Divine Being for human actions. Carlisle surgically removed the extra fingers from Zerah in 1815ii and Carlisle, Basil Montagu, and Humphry Davy helped Zerah write an autobiography.iii
i Carlisle, Anthony, Philosophical Transactions for 1814, London, 1814, p 94-101
ii Colburn, Zerah, A Memoir of Zerah Colburn, Springfield, Merriam, 1833, p 72
iii The Scots Magazine, Edinburgh, 1813, p 886
 
In his 1813 paper, Carlisle anticipated genetic analysis and genetic variation, when he stated;
In particular breeds of animals the characteristic signs are generally continued, whether they belong to the horns of kine, the fleeces of sheep, the proportions of horses, the extensive varieties of dogs, or the ears of swine. In China the varieties of gold or silver fishes are carefully propagated, and with us what are vulgarly called 'fancy pigeons' are bred into most whimsical deviations from their parent stock. As wild animals and plants are not liable to the same variations, and as all the variations seem to increase with the degree of artificial restraint imposed, and as certain animals become adapted by extraordinary changes to extraordinary conditions, it may still be expected that some leading fact will eventually furnish a clue by which organic varieties may be better explained. [my emphasis] A few generations of wild rabbits, or of pheasants, under the influences of confinement break their natural colours, and leave the fur and feathers of their future progeny uncertainly variegated. The very remarkable changes of the colour of the fur of the hare, and of the feathers of the partridge, in high northern latitudes, during the prevalence of the snow, and the adaptation of that change of colour to their better security, are coincidences out of the course of chance [my emphasis] and not easily explained by our present state of physical knowledge.i

Carlisle elaborated on extreme variation from the feral state in fancy pigeon breeding;
A paper has been read at the meeting of the Royal Society, by Anthony Carlisle, Esq. On Monstrosity in the Human Species. The author detailed a number of examples of monstrosity , hereditary in particular families, and propagated from one generation to another. All monstrosity he conceives to take place only in cases where artificial civilization of man has interfered. Thus varieties of dogs, pigeons, &c. are easily propagated.ii
Carlisle discounted the importance of artificial breeding fancy pigeon varieties as an explanation for the natural variations in species. However, when Charles Darwin (1809-1882) published “On the Origin of Species” in 1858, the first chapter he discusses the breeding of pigeon varieties by breeders as a foundation of his theory. In doing so, Darwin rejected Carlisle's view of the importance of differentiating between natural and artificial breeding. On 20 November 1815, Carlisle delivered his second RA lecture demonstrating common links between man and animals, and indicating the breadth of his study, later a building block for Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) and Darwin. The lecture being given eight years before Wallace was born, and when Darwin was only six years old.
Mr Carlisle here continued his miscellaneous observations on the utility of anatomy, particularly that branch called comparative, to students in art, and illustrated the system of the bones and skeleton, comparing the human frame with those of animals, birds, and fishes. This collection, he observed was a very small one, part of a larger that was open to the students every Monday, but was sufficient for his purpose. The analogy between the race of men and of apes was very striking, [my emphasis] and in all the others very apparent; particularly the joints of the neck, which in all quadrupeds amount, to seven. The cameleopard [giraffe], whose gigantic frame support a neck ten feet in length, has but seven vertebrae in the neck; and the mole, whose neck is scarcely a quarter of an inch in length, has also seven. He continued his comparisons much farther, and we regret that our limits will admit of no more than a few examples. Man and the other climbing animals have the clavicle, or collar bone; and prone, or creeping quadrupeds, are destitute of it. Many animals which appear destitute of certain limbs or organs have them imperfectly developed; as the lump-like tail of the seal, a skeleton of which he exhibited, contain the elements of legs and a tail, but hidden by a fat webby membrane; the fin-like feet of the turtle contain the bones of the carpus and metacarpus, mid the bones of the fingers or toes; and the wings of most birds the bones of the upper arm and the two bones of the forearm and the five bones of the fingers that spread the wings and give them a motion similar to the pronation and supernation of the human arm.iii

Hence unlike Darwin, Carlisle was unafraid to describe man as just one of the natural species. The next year, 1816, Carlisle inferred again that man was just one among numberless species;
We shall do more justice to it by presenting, as nearly as possible in the Professor's own words, the following remarks on the classification of natural objects, with which he premised an account of the natural history of man. “The animal creation presents an immense series of beings, linked together by various points of family resemblance, and again subdivided into different species, by distinguishing marks. [my emphasis] From the earliest periods of civilization, men have attempted to class and name the several creatures which surround them. Increasing leisure has brought the most minute and apparently the most insignificant cant animals under rational consideration; and a relation and harmonious dependence has been discovered among the whole, contrary to that seeming confusion which ignorance attributes to misrule or to chance. The beautiful order of nature has tempted the vanity of man into a belief that he might catalogue all the objects of creation, and unite his arts to the laws of unvarying power. These are the dreams of philosophy. Experience informs us, that the numberless species of natural objects are assimilated to each other by shades of connection, which the gross organs and the limited intellect of man are unable to discriminate. It is impossible to distinguish and name the several specimens of creation, as if they had been formed into distinct sets, and were well marked different links of a definite chain; instead of being as they are a continuous series. The infinite approaches of similitude in natural things, and the endless deviations which are discovered by every attempt to class them together, only adds another convincing proof of the immeasurable qualities of infinite power. Nor has the idle epithet of imperfect creatures, as applied to simple animals, any better foundation than the vulgar nickname of monster, as applied to every strange and unfamiliar living thing. In the great work of infinite wisdom, there is no imperfection: each object is exactly fitted to its destiny; and the immense order of successive generation moves on with unerring, irresistible, unchanging precision”.iv
Although Carlisle refers to 'unchanging precision', it is clear from his other comments he recognised that variations to this 'unchanging precision' could, and did, arise within the embryo. At this time, even Sir Joseph Banks accepted the wording of the Bible. Reading between the lines of a letter of January 1816 written by Banks it appears Carlisle submitted a paper to the Royal Society which addressed evolution, but it was rejected by the Society, thereby causing a rift;
Thus, the noble creature man, is the destined prey of the head louse, the body louse & the crab louse, neither of which can exist in any other situation than on the human body. Of course, as man was the last work of Creation, he must have maintained all these animals until he had a wife who might release him from supporting one or two of them; but till Abel, the younger brother of Cain, was born, there were not more men than lice destined to feed upon them. But enough of this nonsense. Until an actual experiment has taught us that an animal can proceed from another without having been created or begotten, what inducement can we have for believing that possible from abstract reasoning which appears impossible from actual experiment? Carlisle has not entered my house since the Committee of Papers of the RS refused to print a paper of his, [my emphasis] &, I am told, has declared that he never will. I hear that he is employed in hatching a publication in which countenance will be given to those equivocal doctrines, but I do not hear of one experiment he has to produce in favour of his doctrine.v
i Carlisle, Anthony, Philosophical Transactions for 1814, London, 1814, p 498
ii The Universal Magazine, London, Sherwood, 1814, p 320
iii New Monthly Magazine, London, Henry Colburn, 1815, p 439-440
iv Elmes, James, Annals of the Fine Arts for MDCCCXVI, London, 1817, p 365
v Banks, Joseph, The Letters of Sir Joseph Banks, London, Imperial, 2000, p 320-321

 
At age 70, in 1838, only two years before his death, he presented a paper worthy of careful study, although a difficulty is that Carlisle was so much at the forefront of research, he needed to coin words and phrases to fit his concepts. For example he refers to “embrystic evolution” [evolution of the embryo] showing his belief the divergence of species was initiated by changes at an embryonic level. His term “embrystic evolution” is startlingly similar to modern definitions of the evolutionary process, such as; biological evolution, genetic evolution, or organic evolution. His view 'they always originate under physical direction', foreshadows modern genetic science, as we are now taught new species occur from random, natural, mutations in reproduction of the DNA genetic strand.
For the advancement of natural knowledge, and for the improvement of organic physiology, it may be useful to collect and to collate various evidences, in order to establish the laws which direct the formation of similar figures in different bodies. … For the better understanding of physiological, and consequently of pathological phenomena, it is very important to distinguish between physical causes of general influence, and the especial or peculiar causes termed vital, which belong conjointly to organized living bodies; and the facts now submitted must, I believe, lead to more exact and practical discriminations as to the causes of embrystic evolution, the growth of organized parts, the reparation of lesions, and morbid deviations from natural structure. If it be granted that arborescing vessels are only gross accommodations or appliances of convenience in animal function, and that they always originate under physical direction, [my emphasis] and not from a vital or mysterious necessity, we may assume to have made one step further in natural knowledge.i
Given Carlisle's keen study of inherited mutations and his interest in arborescing vessels, it seems clear he saw a connection between them. That is, he was thinking about inherited traits, and how they sometimes reappear in following generations, and sometimes disappear, leading to permanent physiological changes, or even to extinction, implicitly in both human and animal lines of descent.

i Barker, Edmund Henry, Literary Anecdotes, London, Smith, 1852, p 254

Unknown - portrait of Rev Mr Roush

Although this miniature has the sitter's name on the reverse, it has proved difficult to find out anything about him. At top left it is inscribed either "Rev Mr Roush" or "Rev Wm Roush", or less likely "Routh".

Without being exceptional, the miniature is well painted and the pointed shape of the nose is reminiscent of the work of James Peale (1749-1831) of Philadelphia. For example, a portrait said to be of James Ladson painted by him in 1799. Peale did his best work between 1786 and 1805, and in his work after 1805 he is said to have been assisted by his daughter Anna Claypoole Peale (1791-1878).

The pose of this miniature is similar to that of miniatures by both Peale and his daughter, and if a joint work would be less likely to be signed. From the discussion about casework as below, it is believed the miniature probably dates to 1810-1815 and was probably painted in Philadelphia.The name Roush, changed from Rausch, did occur in the Philadelphia area. He is likely therefore to be related to John Roush or Jacob Roush, both of Philadelphia, who were born in the mid 18C and died after 1815.

One way to date the miniature is by studying the casework which helps to confirm it as an American portrait. I have discussed elsewhere the effect of the 1808 Embargo Act on American miniature portraits. As a consequence of the trade war, it was not possible to import cases and glasses from Britain. Hence for a period of several years from 1808-1815 miniature painters had to make cases out of whatever they could find. In this instance there is, unusually, an inner and outer glass, both with metal bezels as shown in the photographs here. It appears the miniature was made to fit the inner bezel, itself made to fit an available glass. There being no indication of any hanger.  As the miniature was then too small for a standard case, the inner half-case and miniature were then placed inside a rectangular ebonised case, which appears to be more likely of French origin, trade with France being easier than with Britain. The miniature is therefore very collectible as being a good example of an Embargo Act "make-do" case. 1485

Tuesday

Unknown - portrait of Martha Washington


This miniature portrait, only 40mm x 32mm in size, was offered on eBay as a miniature portrait of an unknown lady, being advertised as;
 "Antique Early 1800's Bonnet Lady Portrait Miniature on Enamel 14K Gold Case. Shabby Chic Condition Glass Back Case 15.27 grams".

As such there was limited price competition, even though there were a total of 21 bids, and it was fortunately purchased for this collection for less than the value of the gold content, $160. Thus bargains can occasionally be found even on eBay, that is, provided one is careful and does one's research beforehand as far as practical.

As can be seen by comparison with the photograph below, it is now revealed as a portrait of Martha Washington. As such it is a copy on enamel of the miniature portrait on ivory by James Peale (1749-1831), painted in 1796 and now residing at Mount Vernon.

American miniatures on enamel are very uncommon, with one of the very few artists to use the technique being William Russell Birch (1755-1834). Whilst it would be nice to believe it was a contemporary copy by Birch in a later frame, that seems unlikely. Thus it more likely dates from around the time of the Centennial celebrations of 1875-1876. It is unknown whether other examples on enamel were painted at the same time, although no other examples have yet been noticed. Nevertheless it is very well painted, as enamel miniatures require a great deal of skill. That is because the glass pigments used melt at different temperatures, so the adding of different colours takes several firings, as the pigments also change colour during the intense heat of the firing process. Due to that intense method of manufacture, unlike miniatures on ivory, the enamel colours will never fade. The greatest risk thereafter being of scratches to the enamel, or cracking, which is almost impossible to remedy. In addition, the gold-work is exquisite. 1473

Freeman, George - portrait of a man

This finely painted miniature portrait is signed with an incised signature by George Freeman (1787-1868), an American miniature painter who worked in both the United States and in England. The sitter is unknown, but the detail of the sitter's clothing, and indeed his facial features are very well painted, better than can be seen in this image. 1482

An early book, "Art and Artists in Connecticut", by H.W. French, written in 1879, records of him.
Among the names unfortunately forgotten by historians is that of George Freeman, born at Spring Hill, near Mansfield Centre, Conn., April 21, 1789.  He was a painter of miniature portraits on porcelain and ivory, and of no small repute either in England or America.  His father was a farmer of very moderate means, and all that he was in later years resulted from his own personal efforts.  Of the earlier pictures of his painting that remain are one of Mrs. Sigourney, and several in possession of Mrs. H.B. Beach of Hartford, executed about 1810.  In 1813 he went abroad, remaining in Europe twenty-four years; which accounts for Mr. Dunlap's oversight.  He returned without warning, and took dinner with his father, telling him he had met his son in Paris and London.  In the latter city his work was highly praised, and he received the distinguished honor of being allowed to paint Queen Victoria and Prince Albert from life. He died in Hartford March 7, 1868.
Included in this collection there is also a miniature portrait of a young lady as below, which was painted on his return to America. Freeman, George - portrait of a lady

Stump, Samuel John - portrait of a young man

The sitter is unknown in this miniature portrait of c1815-1825, but it is signed "Stump pinxt". Samuel John Stump (1778-1863) was a very competent artist who is believed to have been born in USA, although it is not known where. As such he has been included with other American miniatures. He worked in London, Brighton, Zurich, and Geneva. Unfortunately the miniature is warped and hence the scanned image does not adequately reflect his skill. 1478

Sunday

Trott, Benjamin - portrait of a man



This particular miniature was advertised on eBay by a specialist art dealer in Paris as;
 ANTIQUE French Empire Miniature Painting on Ivory Gentleman c1800 Ebonized Frame You are viewing an exquisite French miniature portrait of a gentleman circa 1790 to 1810. I have taken lots of closeup photographs to show the quality of the painting. The detail in the man's hair and scarf is exceptional. It comes with what looks like the original lacquered frame with an oval gilt brass surround and an oak and acorn hanger. The image measures approximately 3 x 2 1/3 inches; the frame measures approximately 6 x 5 1/4 inches. Both painting and frame show signs of wear consistent with an antique around 200 years old. Some chipping to the frame (which appears to be papier mache), and some scratching and paint oxidation to the portrait (please refer to photos or email me with specific condition questions). The piece comes with its convex glass which has no cracks or chips. Shipping will be $15 internationally from France. Please view my feedbacks and bid with confidence on this great European artwork.

Although this one of an unknown man was advertised in France, early miniatures did sometimes cross and recross the Atlantic with settlers or with residents returning to Europe.  In this instance, the distinctive style of the background made me believe it was by the noted American artist, Benjamin Trott (1770-1843). Despite some minor paint disturbance at the very bottom, at a price of $325 it was therefore a fortunate 'bargain'. The price being fair for an unknown artist, but enhanced by an attribution to Trott, which seems a fair and reasonable attribution, but it is always difficult to be 100% sure of an artist.

Trott lived in Philadelphia in 1806-1820. He was noted for the tousled hair of his sitters and after 1800 a technique of assured, dashing, fluid brushwork applied in natural, clear, colors. Backgrounds with a sky motif were created by floating on this washes of white and blue and leaving large areas of the ivory unpainted. These characteristics can be seen here.

There is in the Guest Gallery this right above portrait by Trott where a similar cloud effect can be seen and the effect can also be seen in various other portraits by Trott.   Guest Gallery: Trott, Benjamin - portrait of Dr John Floyd The Metropolitan Museum has this portrait of Charles Floyd by Trott to the right, which presumably depicts a brother of Dr John Floyd. The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Charles Floyd

Another interesting point about the new addition to this collection is the framing. I have written previously expressing views about the impact of the Embargo Act on American miniatures, and concern about those dealers who remove original frames and replace them with more attractive frames to enhance the selling value. Sometimes that is unavoidable if the frame is damaged, but I believe the 'make-do' frames of 1808-1812 are a special case and should be retained as legitimate and important evidence of the effects on trade of the Embargo Act. A search of this website will bring up more comments, such as those at 3 American Miniature Portraits: Unknown French artist - Unknown ...

In this instance a sliver of additional ivory can be seen on the extreme right of the unframed portrait. This was used to try and fill the observable view from the front, but from the rear it is obvious the case was still too large. This, and the use of an ebonised type frame, allows me to date the miniature as painted in Philadelphia in 1808-1812. The Embargo Act prevented the importation of oval gold casework from Britain. Artists often still had residual stock of blank ivory plaques, but new gold metal cases and glasses were unavailable.

It may surprise non-collectors to realise that early miniatures slightly vary in size and oval shape. As a result between 1808-1812 artists had to either make up cases from scrap material or use frames of slightly the wrong size. In this instance Trott needed to use an ebonised frame slightly too large and hence needed to add a sliver of ivory on the right. 1476

Benjamin Trott (1770-1843), miniature portrait of john baldwin large (1780-1866), Watercolor on ivory, gilt locket case. Accompanied by

Recently Cowan's Auctions advertised the right hand miniature of Henry Clay by Benjamin Trott with an estimate of $6000-$8000 despite it being cracked down the middle. This indicates how significant the sitter can be in establishing a price for a miniature portrait.  That on the left was sold as lot 475 by Freeman's for $10,000 in April 2010, it being a portrait of John Baldwin Large (1780-1866). However, both those prices seem rather high for Trott as an artist, so there may have been special circumstances. The Freeman's estimate was $3000-$5000 which seems more reasonable, although it has to be admitted miniatures by the better American artists are increasingly difficult to find.




Much later: a kind visitor has forwarded this photo of a family ancestor depicted in a very good miniature by Benjamin Trott; it is of William Newton Lane (1772-1822).

Although not all Trott's miniatures are painted in the same way, the commonality of style in the examples here gives a good indication of what to look for.




Later again, June 2016 - As an indication of the often limited expert knowledge about American Miniatures, I recently noted Lot 133, as below, at Americana & Fine and Decorative Art: Important Kentucky Estates 06/24/2016 10:00 AM EDT








Henri, Pierre - portrait of a lady

This miniature portrait has some paint disturbance to the left of the face, but is otherwise in good condition for an age of around 200 years. It was acquired unframed, so was little regarded by the previous owner.

The appeal of the portrait is that it may possibly be by Pierre Henri (1760-1822), a French artist who emigrated to America around the time of the French Revolution. The extra lace around the neck of the dress and hairstyle date to around 1815-1820, so the date is acceptable for Henri, as a later work when he was troubled by gout which affected the quantity and quality his work

His work is often characterized by over large heads which tend to be placed high on the ivory. He tended to pay more attention to the detail of clothing than some other miniature painters active in America at that time.

Johnson notes that the features are strongly delineated, with large round eyes and a slightly curling mouth. Skin tones are pale and backgrounds of a neutral shade. Although he often signed his work this was note always the case.

Below for comparison is another portrait in this collection which is by Pierre Henri  Henri, Pierre - portrait of John Glover Cowell This other one was painted around 1795-1800 and has similarities as well as differences. Thus the attribution of the lady to Henri can only be tentative. 1467

Unknown - portrait of young lady

This is a well painted portrait by an American artist and dates to around 1845. Sadly, the sitter is unknown, but the style of the portrait suggests it was painted shortly after the daguerreotype was introduced in 1840, as the sitter is gazing at the artist is a manner seen in early photographs, when it was necessary to keep absolutely still while the photo was taken.

The artist is unknown, although there are some similarities with the work of Moses B Russell.  The sitter has a strong chin and looks to be a determined young lady. 1468

Thursday

Wood, Joseph - portrait of a naval officer

Although there is a preference for named sitters, this attractive miniature was acquired from New York as an unidentified naval officer by an unknown artist. It was housed in an out of period daguerreotype case dating to twenty years later. As such it was not an easy miniature to attribute to an artist, especially from an Internet image.

However, on arrival the sky background was found to be somewhat brighter than had been expected which assisted. After side by side comparison with many other examples and searching through reference books it has seemed appropriate to attribute the miniature to Joseph Wood (1778-1840) who worked in New York. On the sitter's right shoulder (i.e. the viewer's left) can be seen a shoulder flash, indicating he was a naval officer, perhaps a Lieutenant?

Wood was the son of a New York farmer and ran away from home at age 15 to New York City where he became apprenticed to a silversmith. He learned to paint by copying miniatures which had been left with the silversmith for mounting. In 1801 he established himself as an oil portrait and miniature painter. In 1803 he was joined in partnership by John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840) and around that time was also taught more about miniature painting by Edward Greene Malbone (1777-1807). The partnership with Jarvis had ended by 1810 and in 1811 Wood took on Nathaniel Rogers (1787-1844) as an apprentice, before moving to Philadelphia in c1813 and Washington c1816-18. During his last years he became noted for a dissolute lifestyle and undertook few commissions. From this brief outline it is clear his main output as a miniature painter was restricted to about 25 years, 1801-c1825.

Attribution of the miniature to Wood, made it possible to suggest why the case was mismatched. In 2009 I noted the miniature depicted here in a "make-do" ebonised frame, was likely by Joseph Wood when it sold on eBay to another buyer. In this example Wood has made the background made darker, which was necessary in this instance to contrast with the sitter's white hair. As I mentioned in 2009, in my opinion the case for this second miniature, as showing here, was an important example of make-do Embargo casework, dictated by shortages of British casework supplies during the War, as has been discussed elsewhere. It is therefore likely the earlier case for the naval officer fell to pieces and the miniature was rehoused in a daguerreotype case.

The process also resulted in a decision to write a brief research paper on Joseph Wood when it became clear that several miniatures attributed to him were by different artists. The paper demonstrates why the above examples are believed to be by the same artist and can be seen at Discussing Joseph Wood at View 1465

De Lagercrantz, Ava - portrait of a gentleman

Although the sitter in this American miniature portrait is unknown, the artist is Ava de Lagercrantz, born as Hedvig Gustafa Lagercrantz (9 July 1862-6 May 1938), a Swedish royal portrait painter, active in Sweden (painting Oscar II and Gustav V), New York (1903-1923), Stockholm (1923 to 1936) and Paris (1936-1938).

Her photograph shows her a a young woman. She studied with Kerstin Cardon in Stockholm and Professor Jules Joseph Lefebvre (1836-1911) in Paris. She exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1888, 1889 and 1890. In Paris, she painted a portrait of August Strindberg (1849-1912), which now hangs at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. In 1935 she had an exhibition in the Artists' House in Stockholm. It was during her residence in New York, which she twice called back to Sweden, to paint the above noted reigning monarchs.

Lagercrantz was a cousin of Sweden's Ambassador in Washington, Herman Lagercrantz and this became a gateway for orders for portraits in oils, pastels and miniatures from the diplomatic corps, the world of opera and prominent New Yorkers. She was the daughter of Vice Admiral Jacob Reinhold Lagercrantz. Her well-executed portrait of the father was awarded the First Prize at the Paris Salon 1890th In the 1889 Paris Salon, she up with a self-portrait, reproduced in the catalog. Ava's uncle was Sweden's finance minister Gustav Lagercrantz .

The Ava called themselves the Lagercrantz rather than just Lagercrantz had in New York, the purpose, to inform clients that she was of noble (and non-jew) birth and therefore entitled to a slightly higher fee than other, otherwise comparable artists.

Ava died unmarried and childless. She also painted landscapes. Her photographic portrait as an older woman is held by Harvard University.

She participated in Exhibitions by Swedish-American Artists at the Swedish Club of Chicago and was listed in the Women's Who's Who of America for 1914/1915;
Lagercrantz Ava de, Carnegie Hall, 883 Seventh Av., N.T. City. Portrait and miniature painter; b. Carlscrona, Sweden; daughter of Vice-Admiral Jakob Reindold and Nedvig Otilia (Llndstrom) de Lagercrantz; educated in Sweden, studied art in Paris with Jules Lefebvre, Benjamin Constant, Tony Robert Fleury. Has exhibited in Paris Salon and various countries abroad, and in the United States. Painted King Oscar II and Princess Therese of Sweden; was called back in 1908 to Stockholm to paint King Gustaf V (miniature); has painted other royalties and many noted people. Resident of N.Y. City since 1903. Member N.Y. Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.

It is interesting to note her membership of an anti-sufferage organisation. This may have been a pragmatic move, designed to avoid alienating potential sitters. 1453

Hooper, Rosa - portraits of Palo Alto couple

This pair of miniature portraits of an unknown couple are by the American artist Rosa Hooper (19 Jul 1876-11 Mar 1963). She was born in San Francisco which makes her unusual as a miniature painter from the West Coast as most artists were from the East Coast. She was the founder of the California Society of Miniature Painters in 1912 which continued to exist until 1972. There are several miniatures in this collection by later presidents of that society, including Martha Baxter and Katherine Starr.

Although the sitters are unknown, the portraits were acquired from Palo Alto where Hooper lived. The sitters would have been wealthy residents of the area, so it may be possible to find contemporary portraits in social pages or family albums that would enable the sitters to be identified.

Hooper began her art studies at the Mark Hopkins Institute and continued under Mne. de Billemont in Paris and Otto Eckhardt in Dresden. She wed Chas A. Plotner in 1903 but divorced him to marry Wm Lyon in 1911. She was a resident of San Francisco, Palo Alto, La Jolla, and died in Millbrae, CA on March 11, 1963. Member: SF Women Painters; Spinner's Club (SF); San Diego Art Guild. Exh: SFAA, 1900-1912; Sketch Club, 1907; Alaska-Yukon Exp.

The Rootsweb site includes a lot of information about her kindly collected by other researchers;
From: Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California November 7, 1908
OVER THE CUPS OF THE KEENEY TEA.
"Miss Kathleen de Young's Persian lamb coat attracted a great deal of admiration at the Keeney tea. Mrs. Selby Hanna and Mrs. Rosa Plotner were among the most colorful and animated pictures there. ..."

From: Oakland Tribune October 7, 1908
..." Mrs. Charles Plotner, who was formerly Miss Rosa Hooper, is one of the society girls of San Francisco who has developed her talent charmingly and is now a leading member of the artistic world of this city. Her miniature work has won her much fame and a number of beautiful women have been exquisitely portrayed by her." ...

From Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California July 2, 1910
PLANS THAT ENDED IN DIVORCE
"The bit fire caused countless upsets in countless callings in San Francisco and the husband quickly discovered that there are few congenial vocations open to a retired army officer unacquainted with another profession. Husband and wife fondled the deceptive notion that with their experience in living in a hotel they could conduct one successfully. Mrs. Plotner was enthusiastic over an idea of her own to make the care and happiness of the children in a captivating playground the special feature of the new hotel. So the San Margo was leased with a large part of her funds. It proved an unfortunate venture. She returned to miniature painting and gave teas in her studio to which society dutifully responded. Later the domestic friction impelled her to go to Honolulu. She returned from there not long ago and began to lay plans to open up a studio in the city of New York. Of late she has been dividing her time between her stepmother's ranch at Mountain View and the office of her attorney in this city while preparing the divorce on the ground of failure to provide. There is one child a boy. After the hotel failure the husband tried his hand for brief seasons in the motor business and in the jewery line. He is now somewhere in the oil fields - The Wasp. "

From Oakland Tribune, Oakland California May 8, 1921
"Rosa Hooper-Lyon, whose new studio at 1551 Emerson street, Palo Alto, has become a rendezvous for artists visiting at Standford, exhibited her miniatures yesterday at a studio tea, a portrait of Miss Mary Creed Howard, her newest bit of work. Several other portraits on ivory were presented, all characteristic of the artist who had made a distinctive place for herself before The Fire wiped out her studio."

From Oakland Tribune, Oakland California October 1, 1922
"Rosa Hooper Lyon will exhibit the miniature portrait of Mrs. P. L. Seamans of Palo Alto today at the studio of the painter, 2348 Hyde street in San Francisco."

A clipping from the Republican dated October 13, 1922 invites Fresnans to see an exhibition of California landscapes by Bertha Stringer Lee and portrait miniatures by Rose Hooper Lyon in the Hotel Fresno. It apparently was the first art show in Fresno open to the public.

From Place Names of the High Sierra (1926) by Francis P. Farquhar - ROSE LAKE - named by R. B. Marshall, U. S. G. S., for Rosa Hooper, daughter of Major William Burchell Hooper, of San Francisco, and sister of Selden S. Hooper, an assistant of the U. S. G. S. Miss Hooper is now a miniature painter in New York.

From Daily Herald Middletown Times Press, Middletown, New York August 6, 1927
MINIATURES TO FORM PART OF FAIR EXHIBIT
"A choice collection of valuable miniatures has just been announced by Miss Anna M. Walling, superintendent of the domestic department, as one of thenew exhibits at the Orange county fair, which open August 15.
These miniatures are the work of Rose Hooper, of San Francisco and New York, who has been spending part of the summer with Dr. and Mrs. Joseph G. Yocum at their home in Middletown.
Mrs. Hooper is a miniature portrait painter of note and many times a medalist. She won the golf medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition and also at the Lewis Clark Exposition at Seatle. She has studied extensively abroad and exhibited her work in all important exhibitions, both in this country and in Europe."

SS BARBARA Sailing from San Juan Puerto Rico Dec 16 or 18, 1939, Arriving at Port of Philadelphia, PA Dec 21, 1939
Rosa Hooper, 53 years, 5 months, single, born San Francisco, Cal. July 19, 1886. Address in US: % Lt. S. G. Hooper, U.S.S. Boris, Norfolk, Va.

Exhibition of Miniature Paintings by Rose Hooper at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C. April 18, 1940 to May 4, 1940.

As mentioned above, one of the artists she trained with was Otto Eckardt and there are a number of miniature portraits by him in this collection including an important Marmet family group of nine miniatures; 20C - American Miniature Portraits: Eckardt, Otto - portraits of ... other examples by him in the collection are 20C - American Miniature Portraits: Eckardt, Otto - portrait of Jane and 20C - American Miniature Portraits: Eckardt, Otto - portrait of John 1462, 1463