Dickinson, Anson - portrait of a gentleman

This miniature portrait is by one of the better known American artists, Anson Dickinson (1779-1852) who worked in Connecticut.

The sitter is unknown, but from a comparison with examples of his work in various books, including those in the 1983 biography of Anson Dickinson by Mona Leithiser Dearborn, it would appear to date from around 1835/1840 when the collar worn by the sitter was common.

Dickinson painted no fewer than 1500 miniatures during his lifetime, but as there is no inscription it is impossible to determine the sitter.

The outer frame was missing when purchased and the name of the sitter may have been removed by the family member who sold the miniature, as on a piece of old wooden backing that came with the miniature there is a small piece of torn paper that reads only "Mr".

As I have said previously, I feel it is very sad when sitters lose their identities. They can only lose them once.

Unfortunately, Dickinson used a fugitive blue in the background, so that where the portrait has been exposed to strong light, the blue has been bleached out, leaving only the reddish tones.

In Dearborn's biography a similar effect can be seen with two miniatures of ladies figs 93 and 94.

Nevertheless the skill of the artist is apparent. It is possible to have such color loss retouched, but that requires the expertise of a professional restorer.

A simpler option is to use a mask that hides the darker section, as has been done here.

There is another miniature by Anson Dickinson in this collection where there is no bleaching and this example shows what the original coloring would have looked like, see View

Despite the bleaching, it is a good portrait showing Dickinson's technique and one that can always be restored at some time in the future. 1308

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