Clark, Alvan - portrait of a man

This miniature portrait must have been destined to join the collection! He was first seen at a Garths auction in November 2006 as an unattributed artist, but went to another buyer. However, another portrait at the sale did join the collection and she is believed to be his wife. She appears here, but was featured as a January addition.

Anyway, two months later the portrait of the man appeared by chance on an Internet search without an attribution, but when the dealer was contacted, he said he had already sold the portrait. A month later again, the man's portrait again appeared by chance on an Internet search at another dealer's site, again without an attribution. This time he was still available and was purchased, so it was third time lucky and nice to be able to reunite the couple!

The miniature has now been attributed to Alvan Clark (1804-1887) who initially worked in New York and in 1836 moved to Boston, where this miniature was painted. The reasons for attributing the miniature to Alvan Clark are partly on quality and style, his highly skilled portraits of men tending to be three-quarter length, subdued, and nearly monochromatic. However, the attribution is also partly based on the case maker's label inside, which reads "Made at / Smith's / No 2 Milk St / Opposite Old South / Boston".

In Johnson's book on the Manney Collection, there are three examples of miniature cases with labels with wording identical to the one shown here. Two, figs 207 and 208, are attributed to Moses Russell, but a well respected authority on American miniatures advises that neither of these are by Russell. They are more likely to be by Alvan Clark. The third miniature in Johnson with a similar label is fig 38, which is by Alvan Clark.

Unfortunately, neither of these two sitters are known. However, in the American 1 Gallery of this collection is a signed portrait of Ruth Morrison by Alvan Clark from his New York period. 1207

No comments: