Staigg, Richard Morrell - portrait of a young lady

Richard Morrell Staigg (1817-1881) was born in Britain and attended a drawing school in Leeds.

In 1831 he moved to the United States with his father, and four years later he settled with the family in Newport.

In his artistic efforts he met with encouragement and advice from Washington Allston, and soon devoted himself entirely to miniature painting.

He was a regular exhibitor at the National Academy of Design, New York City, of which he was elected an associate in 1856, and an academician in 1861.

He visited Europe 1867-1869, and again 1872-1874.

The last twenty years of his life were devoted to painting life-size portraits in oil, as well as genre pieces and landscapes.

Although this miniature of an unknown young lady is unsigned, it has some similarities with his other works. The face is very finely painted, especially when viewed with a magnifying glass.

In this example, the fixed gaze in the sitter's eyes suggests the portrait may have been copied from a daguerreotype, perhaps after her death. That was not uncommon, as with John Henry Brown who painted a number of miniatures from daguerreotypes, of which there are examples in this collection.

During his mid and later period Staigg's miniature works more and more resembled the large oil paintings he was also producing. As with two other miniature portraits in this collection, one of Colonel William Winchester; 2 - American Miniature Portraits: Staigg, Richard Morrell ... and one of an unknown man Staigg, Richard Morrell - portrait of a man

Another factor supporting the attribution, is the frame-maker's label; "S J H Smith, Maker, No 215 Washington Street, Up Stairs, Opposite Franklin Street, Boston". Several signed works by Staigg are in cases made by the same case maker, who also operated out of 2 Milk St and 182 Washington St. The address of 215 Washington Street suggests this is a later work by Staigg, dating to sometime after 1850. 1379

Quinton - Portrait of a Young Lady

A little known American miniature painter who is only known as Quinton, was active in 1804 and is listed in Young's Dictionary of American Artists.

This miniature portrait of a young lady is signed in pencil, Quinton, but there is some doubt about the attribution. The miniature was acquired from a large collection assembled before 1950 which included many miniatures supplied by the well-known dealer and collector, Edward Grosvenor Paine.

It has previously been suggested by knowledgeable art historians that Paine was some times "bold" with his attributions and was not averse to adding signatures to portraits.

This attractive miniature portrait of a young lady may come into that category. The face is well painted by a competent artist and she is wearing a tortoise-shell comb in her hair. Without other clearly signed miniatures by Quinton it is not possible to confirm an attribution to Quinton.

It does appear to be American and to date from 1820-1825, which seems to be too late to be by Quinton.

Thus it is more likely by another American artist, and it may be possible to make an attribution in the future.

It is housed in an oval, dark-red, leather case, typical of the period. 1377

Vallee - Portrait of a Young Man

After the French Revolution and during the Napoleonic Wars, a number of miniature painters left France for America.

Among them was Jean Francois de la Vallee (aka P R Vallee) who was active in the United States from around 1785-1828. He is reported to have worked in Philadelphia, Charleston, New Orleans, and Boston.

It has been recorded that he had a scheme to build a cotton mill in Virginia, and when it failed he resorted to miniature portraits, such as this one of a young man.

While technically competent in the detail, his work lacks the spark and quality of his French compatriots of the time.

His work is not common, thus although this miniature has a vertical stress fracture on the right, it is a good example of his work, with a clear signature.

From the clothing and neck-wear, the portrait dates from around 1815-1820 and was probably painted when he was in Boston.

As was fashionable at the time, the sitter wears a stickpin, as a forerunner to the tie pin which was worn by men for many years.

Although not shown, the frame is a typical French ebonised frame of the period. 1372