Benbridge, Henry - portrait of A T

The sitter in this miniature portrait is unknown, although the rear of the locket case is engraved with two letters that appear to be one of AT or AS or AJ.

However, the artist has tentatively been identified as Henry Benbridge (1743-1812). Benbridge was from Philadelphia and went to Rome and London in Europe to study painting. When he returned to the United States, he spent most of his painting career in Charleston.

Benbridge concentrated on very small miniatures. This miniature is 1 3/8 inches by 1 1/8 inches (34 mm x 28 mm), which is a typical size for miniatures by him in the Gibbes Collection and in the catalogue of the 1971 exhibition of his work at the NPG.

Apart from size, the other reasons for attributing it to Benbridge, are similarities to the style of his work as recorded in Severens. That is, it appears to be a typical pose for his work, where he tended to place the head towards the top of the ivory. Features are strongly contrasted, blemishes are shown and men often tend to show a five o'clock shadow.

As with this miniature, Benbridge often showed a black line for the mouth and the shape of the chin looks to be consistent with his other miniatures. The case is a front opening locket, although the bezel appears to be a replacement. Especially from the early 19C, front opening lockets or pendents are often the sign of an American artist. Thus if the original locket with fixed glass was broken, it is not surprising for a front opening bezel to have been made. 1200

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