Dennis, Edgar - self portrait?

This miniature portrait is by a previously unrecorded American artist, Edgar Dennis. It may well be a self portrait, as it has that kind of appearance about it, where extra attention is paid to the detail, compared to portraits painted for commercial purposes.

On the reverse there is an outline of a man's head and a signature in pencil, "Painted by Edgar Dennis, NL, Ct." where NL stands for New London, Connecticut. The miniature is relatively large at 110mm x 90mm.

While somewhat primitive in style, the composition and brushwork are excellent. The shading is very cleverly done, especially on his clothing and on his face. Few miniatures from any country have such detailed backgrounds.

A kind visitor has assisted with the following information.
Edgar Dennis appears to have been born on 12 August 1823 at New London Township. There is no record of a marriage and he died on 12 April 1852 at the age of 28. He was the son of Henry Dennis (1788-1870) and his wife Sarah Sally Briggs) (1792-1870), who were married on 2 June 1807 in New London and had a number of children. 1441

Later - February 2013 I have been sent another portrait by Edgar Dennis by a kind descendent who lives in Ct. She apologizes for the image quality, which is taken through the glass, but comments; "I would like to hear from any other descendents who might see your blog and might have some information about the family. Aunt Frances would be Edgar's aunt. He had a sister named Frances Jane Dennis but considering he died at age 28 and this woman appears to be older.... ..Plus my great aunt, from whom I got this miniature, wrote on the back "Grandfather Dennis's Aunt Frances" He was Henry Gallup Dennis-Edgar's older brother(about 10 years older). So far I can't find any evidence that she was a Dennis so guessing she must have been a Briggs. Their mother was Sally Briggs Dennis".

Thus extra comments being posted about the family are very welcome.


guess said...

Edgar Dennis is one on my descendants. I have a painting done by him that has been passed done through my family. It was done in 1849..It is a bowl of peaches..

guess said...

I am totally fasinated by this image. As I said earlier..Edgar Dennis is an ancestor of mine. The painting I have is of a bowl of peaches..very realistic..My mother told me that the her mother said Edgar came to visit her she would have been his 1st cousin. She had just picked the peaches and he sat at the table and did the painting. I have searched and searched for more information about him and I am beyond thrilled to actually see what may be his face.. Thank you for posting this blog. I would happily send you a photo of my painting if you would like. We also have one of a vase of flowers that was passed down to my nephew.

Don Shelton said...

I am glad it is of interest. If you have a painting by him, that seems to make it even more certain this is the same person. If you would like me to display a photo of your painting on the website with the portrait, you can send me one via the email address on my profile.