Unknown - portrait of husband and wife

Unfortunately many miniature portraits are of unknown sitters and are by unknown artists.

It is so much easier to identify with sitters or artists when they are known and, obviously, it is so much more rewarding to research them.

Thus, although this pair are unknown, the miniature itself is still of interest for several reasons.

Firstly, it is most probably American. The image at the bottom of this post shows a close up of the hanger and includes a section of the "beaded" bezel.

To my mind, this hanger shape is most often met with on American miniatures, rarely on British miniatures, and almost never on European miniatures.

Especially when taken with a beaded bezel, which is also rarely met with on miniatures from other than America.

However, although judged to be American, the case is rare in one other respect.

No doubt other examples do exist, but this is the first American case of this type that I have come across with a double portrait and a beaded bezel on both sides.

Elsewhere I have mentioned I have been trying to work up the enthusiasm to tackle what seems to me a somewhat daunting task of illustrating the differing styles of oval metal miniature cases used in America from around 1820 onwards.

Also the rectangular metal cases which emerged in America in greater numbers after 1900. There seems to be little or no literature on this subject, so it is crying out for research.

American cases seem to diverge in style quite distinctly from European cases from about 1815, possibly due to the difficulty of importing cases during and after the war of 1812.

One presumes that glass was expensive and so small rear glazed compartments containing hair became more common in oval metal cases in the United States from around 1820.

Whereas in contrast most British cases after 1820 are rectangular in shape, with oval miniatures and hair-work tending to become unfashionable in Britain after that date.

Oval miniatures seem to have lasted longer in the United States and hence it must have become necessary to seek locally made oval cases.

I suspect that most oval cases were handmade to fit a particular miniature, rather than the case being purchased as a complete standard size.

However it seems possible that some components, such as the hangers and the small rear bezels to contain a glass, were made in the United States as standard items. 1333

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