Jarvis, John Wesley - portrait of a lady

Although this miniature portrait of a lady is unsigned, it has been tentatively attributed as an early profile miniature by John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840) and was probably painted around 1805. At this stage he and Joseph Wood were in partnership. However, it is also possible it was painted by one of his contemporaries.

(In fact a kind visitor has subsequently commented; "Just came across the profile of a woman that you thought might be by Jarvis. It's possible but Jarvis signed most of his profiles. I think a better option would be William Sheys, a Jarvis contemporary." However, the following information may still be of interest for anyone researching Jarvis.)

Jarvis was born in England and came to the United States at the age of five. He trained as an engraver with Edward Savage and this profile portrait has some of the characteristics of engraved portraits of around 1800, such as those made by St Memin.

Blattel records Jarvis was noted for miniatures, profiles, and silhouettes. Jarvis worked in Philadelphia Pa, Charleston SC, New Orleans La, Richmond Va, New York City, and Baltimore MD. Blattel also records that Jarvis invented a machine for drawing profiles on glass.

As can be seen from the close up image, the hair has been painted by building up fine lines, rather than a block of color with added highlights. The use of fine lines supports an attribution to an artist who had been trained as an engraver, such as Jarvis, as engravers' create dark colour blocks by using closely cross-hatched lines.

Jarvis affected singularity in dress and manners, and his mots were the talk of the day. He was one of the earliest American painters to give serious attention to the study of anatomy. But his work deteriorated, and he died in great poverty in New York City. He was the father of the miniature painter Charles Wesley Jarvis.

Apart from his own son, John Wesley Jarvis apprenticed other miniature and portrait painters, including Thomas Sully, Joseph Wood from 1803-1809, Bass Otis around 1812, and Henry Inman from 1814-1821.

It has been recorded that John Wesley Jarvis made the death mask of Tom Paine. Also that "The gifted painter, John Wesley Jarvis, with whom Paine had formerly resided, testified that Paine on his death-bed reaffirmed the principles enunciated in his "Age of Reason." "

Jarvis painted fewer miniatures in the later years of his career, instead concentrating on oil portraits. For many years he was one of the foremost portrait painters in New York. There is a comprehensive account of his life and work at ABSTRACT Title of dissertation: PORTRAITURE AND POLITICS IN NEW ...

The rationale for the attribution of this miniature to Jarvis, is the close similarity of style to a profile portrait on card which was sold by Skinners in November 2007.

It was lot 147 and was described as follows; "Portrait Miniature of Mary Ten Broek. Signed and dated "Jarvis No. 122 Broadway 1807", sitter identified on inscription on reverse. Watercolor on card, 3 5/8 x 2 5/8 in., in a period embossed brass frame. Condition: Toning, foxing. Provenance: Peter Vorhees, New Brunswick, Erskine Hewitt sale 1938. Note: Mary Ten Broek was the wife of Cornelius Ten Broek, purportedly an Aide de Camp to George Washington. John Jarvis was born in South Shield, England, a nephew of theologian John Wesley. At the age of five he was brought to Philadelphia and apprenticed in engraving to Edward Savage. In 1801, he and Savage went to New York City, where Jarvis went into partnership doing miniature portraits with Joseph Wood. Estimate $400-600".

The Skinner portrait sold above the estimate and inclusive of buyer's commission the auction price was $2000.

In comparing the two portraits, the miniature acquired for this collection is on ivory, whereas the Skinner portrait is on card with toning and foxing, thus the colors of the ivory miniature appear bright by comparison. Against that the ivory miniature is unsigned and the sitter is unidentified. Both sitters have very long necks and their poses are almost identical. The background shading is similar, but the original background on the Skinner portrait is a little darker. 1296


Herve, Walter - portrait of Benjamin Leach Allen

This is a well documented miniature portrait of Captain Benjamin Leach Allen, but it is unsigned.

As has been mentioned on other occasions, unsigned miniatures represent both a frustration and an opportunity!

Initially many miniatures were added into this blog as "unknown artist of unknown sitter". That is now regarded as a bit defeatist, at least as far as the artist is concerned.

Thus the preference now is make a best guess at the artist, give the reasons for the choice and hope that further research or contact from visitors to the website, will enable correction or confirmation of the artist.

In this instance, it is best to start with the sitter. He is clearly identified on the reverse as "Capt Benj L Allen" (8 Mar 1803-24 Sep 1865). Additionally a number of his relations are identified, as shown in the image below. On another scrap of paper there is the comment "Benj L Allen, mother's Uncle Ben, one time Mayor of Boston."

A search of the Internet prior to the auction revealed no confirmation of this, but when the miniature arrived, it was accompanied by an extract from a book "The Memorial History of Boston, Including Suffolk County. Massachusetts 1630-1880" by Justin Winsor. The extract is from page 259 and reads;

"At the municipal election on Dec 12 1853, there were three candidates for mayor: Benjamin Seaver, the nominee of the Whigs, Jerome Van Crowninshield Smith, the nominee of the Native American Party, and Jacob Sleeper, the nominee of the Temperance men. Mr Seaver received the highest number of votes, but not a majority and on the third ballot, taken Jan 9, 1854, Dr Smith was elected. During the interval between the first Monday in January and the date at which the new mayor was sworn in (the sixteenth of that month) Mr Benjamin L Allen, the chairman of the board of alderman, acted as mayor."

There was also a typed note with more family history relating to a sampler, which reads;

"This sampler was embroidered in 1793 by Hannah Lee when she was twelve years old. She was the only daughter of Captain John Lee of Andover, Mass. and was the sister of Jeremiah. Hannah Lee married Major Israel Foster. Their daughter, Hannah Lee Foster married Benj Leach Allen 1st who was born 3/8/1803 and died 9/24/1865 in Manchester, Mass. He was Chairman of the Board of Alderman of Boston in 1853."

and "When Benj and Hananh's only child -Hannah Lee Allen - died in infancy, her parents asked that his brother's expected child - if a girl - bear the same name. Isaac and Harriet (Osborne) Allen's daughter was born 5/1/1837 and was so named Hannah Lee Allen as requested. She never married and died at the home of her sister, Harriet Eliza (Allen) Johnson (Mrs Hervey Shepard Johnson 1st) in Nahant. Their daughter Edith Osborne Johnson married Harry Colby Wilson 10/12/1897. Both were born on Nahant".

In conjunction with a kind lady who has been researching the Allen family tree, we found an image of the sampler concerned on the Internet and it is shown here. It was apparently sold at auction for $1528 in 2005 and the size was 10 1/4 inches X 9 1/2 inches.

It was sad to know a branch of the family decided to sell the two items separately, so that the sampler is now separated from the miniature, as part of the wording on the sampler reads; "Hannah Lee, when this you see, remember me. Wrought in The Twelfth Year of my Age 1793".

It is now over 200 years since Hannah Lee sewed the sampler, but by placing it here, through the image we are still able to remember her, and via the Internet to link her sampler with her son-in law's miniature portrait for any other family members to see.

Thus from all this information the family is well documented. The information has been transcribed in detail here, so that any person researching these names on the Internet should be able to find this reference.

From the information, we have established Benjamin Leach Allen lived in Boston in 1853 and, as be was born in 1803, the miniature probably dates to around the time of his marriage in 1824, or possibly a little later as his clothing may date to around 1835.

This suggests the artist was active in Boston around 1825/1835. One artist who may fit the bill is William Hudson Jr (1787-1861). Johnson comments "From 1829-1856 he worked in Boston ...Hudson's works are usually signed and dated. The few miniatures he is known to have painted, done early in his career, are competently executed; they show subjects with rosy coloring, often seated in a red chair".

Rosy coloring is apparent here and the date fits. Richard Morrell Staigg was another Boston miniaturist noted for rosy coloring, but he was not working in Boston as early as this.

However, since I wrote the above a knowledgeable visitor has advised the miniature is probably by Walter R Herve who worked in Boston in the late 1820's and probably into the 1830's. I am very grateful for this advice, which may help other collectors identify more of his work.

Little else is known about Walter Herve. Blattel mentions him as active in New Orleans, La and Norfolk Va between 1805-1812.

Although, I was wrong, I could clutch at a straw and say by choosing William Hudson, I was on the right track as he has the same intitials as Walter Herve, "W H"! 1285


Henri, Pierre - portrait of a lady

This interesting miniature is unsigned but was inially attributed to Jean-Francois Vallee who was active in America from 1785-1826. Vallee worked in Charleston, Boston, Philadelphia, and New Orleans.

I was later contacted by a miniature portrait scholar who doubted that it is by Vallee. I readily accept that correction. Especially as a signed miniature of a young man by Vallee, as showing on the right below, has since been acquired for the collection. For more about it see View

Another possibility is Pierre Henri who painted larger heads and placed them higher on the ivory.

With the later acquisition of another miniature portrait by Pierre Henri, of John Glover Cowell, (for more see View ) as showing on the left below, Henri now seems to be a reasonable choice for the attribution. There is similar facial colouring, detail in the clothing, the general pose, and, although not showing here, the gold casework is similar, although the Colwell miniature has a plain, rather than a bright-cut bezel.

Overall, the painting style of the miniature of the lady is of an artist trained in France. They often painted solid backgrounds, whereas American and British trained artists tended to paint the background in watercolor. The background here being a solid maroon-brown color and painted in gouache. However, the artist has made maximum use of the ivory base for the sitter's bonnet, face, and shawl by the minimum use of color.

There were a few French trained artists working in America at the turn of the century, generally being people who had fled from the French Revolution. They included Joseph-Pierre Picot de Limoelan de Cloriviere, Jean Pierre Henri Elouis, Geslain, Pierre Henri, Phillippe Abraham Peticolas, Jean-Francois de la Vallee.

By a process of elimination from this group, Henri is felt to be the most likely artist to have painted the miniature. However, other opinions are very welcome.

From the costume, the miniature has been dated as around 1800. The bonnet is very similar to two other early American miniatures in the collection. One of Mary Ball Gordon with a black ribbon in her bonnet and Mary Green Marshall with a blue and white ribbon in her bonnet.

There are very few American miniatures where the sitters are shown wearing bonnets like this and James Peale was one artist who did depict sitters in this manner.

Based upon its construction, the case is regarded as American for the following reasons. The reverse of the case is plain gold. The original hanger is missing, but there is a tiny loop at the top so it could be hung from a necklace or chain. The front bezel which is underneath the glass, is hand-worked in gold.

The miniature was slightly tilted to the right of vertical as it was framed. When these factors are taken together they give the impression of the case having been made in Philadelphia by a local artisan unfamiliar with the techniques and skill required to make a case. The case being amateurish in some respects.

The sitter is unknown. 1286


Bridport, Hugh - portrait of a young lady

Although unsigned, this miniature portrait of a young lady has been attributed to Hugh Bridport (1794->1870). Bridport was born in London, England where he exhibited three miniatures at the Royal Academy in 1813.

He emigrated to Philadelphia in 1816, where he joined his brother George Bridport. Although Hugh Bridport is well known as a miniature painter, he was also a portrait and landscape painter, an engraver, a lithographer, and an architect. He was a founding member of the Franklin Institute, where he taught drawing from 1826-1833.

This miniature gives the tight appearance of a work by an artist trained as an engraver and the pose is similar to other miniatures by Bridport. If the attribution is correct, the miniature is likely to be one of his middle period works, as the quality is a little less than his later miniatures which are of very high quality.

Johnson describes him as; "Bridport's early brushwork was loose, with the paint applied in broad washes; later the execution became crisp, tight, and highly finished. Backgrounds often show clouds and sky".

For a later example by Hugh Bridport in this collection, see Bridport, Hugh - portrait of a man where the highly finished state of his later miniatures, as referred to by Johnson, is more apparent. This separate reference also includes more comment on his life.

The reverse of the portrait as shown here, includes a preliminary sketch of the miniature. It is interesting to compare the finished miniature with the sketch, the chin has been softened a little in the final version.

Several other miniatures by Hugh Bridport show a shadow at the lower right as appears on the finished miniature, where the white mark appearing on the shadow is a rub which has occurred during the life of the miniature.

A thumbprint shaped shadow is a feature which is also found on many miniatures by of John Wood Dodge, but they tend to be more prominent on his work.

The sitter is unknown. 1282


Saint-Memin - portrait of Christopher Grant Champlin

Although this miniature portrait is engraved (the diameter is 57 mm), rather than painted, it does represent an important example of a technique used to create miniature portraits in the United States between the years 1796 and 1810.

In 1793 Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Memin (1770-1852) emigrated to the United States, via Canada, after his family lost their land and possessions as a result of the French Revolution.

In New York City Saint-Memin taught himself engraving and in 1796 went into partnership with another emigre to introduce the technique of Physiognotrace, whereby a portrait was drawn using the device, then coloured, with multiple copies being made after the portrait was engraved.

The subject of this portrait was unknown by the vendor. However, by reference to the excellent biography and catalogue of Saint-Memin's work, prepared by Ellen G Miles, it was possible to identify the sitter (see the last image in this description). Ellen Miles deserves considerable congratulations for the book. Only very few other miniature portrait artists are the subject of dedicated texts, they include Malbone, Dickinson, and Fraser. This volume ranks ahead of them and is an example of the type of reference book needed to help cover the large gaps in available research on miniature portraiture.

Below the portrait there is an engraved imprint which reads "Drawn & engrd by St Memin Philada".

The sitter is Colonel Christopher Grant Champlin (1768-1840) who was educated in France and at Harvard. He served Rhode Island as a representative from 1797-1801 and as a senator from 1809-1811. He was the oldest child and only son of Christopher Champlin. By the 1790's he had graduated from Harvard, and was sent on a European tour to "refine" him and ready him for a merchant's life. He returned, settled to New York and lost a fortune in stock speculation, almost ruining his father. He returned to Newport, where he married Martha Redwood Ellery (1772- ) in 1793. He continued to assist his father in business, and in 1796, decided to run for Congress.

Like his father, CGC used opportunities for financial reward. For example, many of his friends he met while in Europe became contacts for trade, or financial partners. Also, to help his chances for winning a seat, CGC swore that he had not speculated in southern lands and would not use his office to help his investment. In reality, CGC had speculated heavily in the Tennessee Company with his Harvard College friend, Nathaniel Prince (Prime?). He was elected and served in Congress from 1797 to 180l. During his tenure, he participated in a duel with a South Carolina congressman, James A. Bayard. Various family papers are available at 1. Historical note 2. Scope and content 3. Provenance 4 ...

In 1815 he became Colonel of the Artillery Company of the town of Newport and after a disastrous storm the town council passed the following resoultion;"Voted and resolved that the thanks of the town Council be presented to Colonel C. G. Champlin and the officers and privates of the Artillery Company of the town of Newport under his command for the prompt attention they paid to the request of said town council to turn out and guard the property of the unfortunate sufferers in the late destructive storm, and for their good conduct while on duty." see Artillery Company History Circa 1889 He is buried at Christopher Grant Champlin (1768 - 1840) - Find A Grave Memorial

Records have established the portrait was paid for on May 12 1800. The cost was $37.00 for the picture in frame and two dozen small copper plate impressions. It also appears Champlin paid a further dollar for another dozen impressions. Preumably, the images were used an an early form of political advertising.

This particular portrait is also reproduced on page 139 in the 1898 book entitled "Heirlooms in Miniature" by Anne Hollingsworth Wharton. This book mentions many people from early 19C and is illustrated with many images of miniature portraits on ivory.

Wharton uses this particular Champlin portrait to illustrate the process, which she describes in detail. "A French engraver, named Queneday, had invented a machine for this purpose, and Saint Memin constructed his from his recollection of Queneday's physionotrace (sic). Saint Memin's profiles, as we are familiar with them today. have the effect of fine engravings made from miniature portraits. They were in reality first drawn life-size on flesh-tinted paper by the physionotrace, and were afterwards finished in crayon."

"The pantograph reduced the large profiles to the size required for the plate, the portrait being drawn in a perfect circle a little more than two inches in diameter. Having thus obtained a correct outline, the details were worked up by the graver, the shadows being finished with a roulette, which was one of M de Saint-Memin's inventions".

This image of Champlin is also depicted as part of an extensive article about "Heirlooms in Miniature" by Anne Hollingsworth Wharton, which is featured in the New York Times of Jul 3, 1898 see MINIATURES AS ARTWORKS AND AS DOCUMENTS.*

Christopher Champlin's daughter Margaret, "Peggy", was described by Wharton as one of a "distinct type of American beauty...which proved dangerous to the hearts of many British officers who were stationed in New York" and later to "our French allies". Wharton comments specifically, "Miss Peggy wounded her victims, foreign and domestic, with the ruthlessness which belonged to her age and sex before she finally bestowed her heart and hand upon her fellow-townsman, Dr Benjamin Mason."

Miss Peggy was also described by the Prince de Broglie, "the house of Mr Champlin, well known for his wealth, but much more known in the army for the lovely face of his daughter. It is useless to say that we examined her with attention, which was to treat her handsomely, for the result of our observations was to find that she had beautiful eyes, an agreeable mouth, a lovely face, a fine figure, a pretty foot, and the general effect altogether attractive. She added to all these advantages that of being dressed and coiffee with taste, that is to say in the French fashion, - besides which she spoke and understood our language."

Wharton also comments "Margaret Champlin, in addition to being a belle and a beauty, was a good patriot and was one of the original members of the "Daughters of Liberty".

By an uncanny coincidence, Margaret Champlin, was the mother of Elizabeth Champlin Mason, who married Oliver Hazard Perry and may be the lady in the watercolor miniature included in this collection and shown at Unknown - portrait of naval officer and wife 1278


Thomson, William John - portrait of a lady

Painted around 1820 is this miniature of an attractive young lady which has been attributed to William John Thomson (1771-1845).

Normally he signed the backing paper and sometimes added the name of the sitter. In this instance the backing paper is missing. Unfortunately, the probable reason for this is that at some stage the miniature was sold by a descendant who was embarrassed about selling the miniature with their ancestor's name on the reverse and so removed the backing paper.

Although the portrait was painted in Edinburgh, Scotland, Thomson was born in the United States in Savannah, Georgia and has therefore been classified as an American artist in this collection.

Most of Thomson's earlier like this portrait are oval, however as this one is oval on a rectangular plaque, it may mark his transition to a rectangular style as the fashions for miniatures changed. He tended to show a sitter with a solemn expression, but this young lady has a hint of a smile.

Attribution is assisted by a comparison of his style. In this miniature, as well as in another one signed by him and dated 1820 in this collection, and shown here for comparison, Thomson painted the irises, within the eyes, as inverted crescent moons, and without an obvious fleck of white to show the light reflection commonly seen in most paintings of eyes. The differing background colours for the two miniatures are probably intended to complement the differing colours of the sitters' eyes.

Thomson's father was a Government official who lost his position after the War of Independence and then retired to England on a small pension.

Thomson learned to paint portraits and miniatures in London but later moved to Edinburgh. There he married Helen Colhoun on 12 May 1797, He exhibited many times and was recognised as an accomplished artist. He became a member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1829 and was even offered a knighthood, but this was declined.

Comparison of the colour and method of painting the dress for this miniature is also helpful in making an attribution, as it is quite similar to the other signed miniature of a young lady.

The sitter is unknown. 1276


McDougall, John Alexander - portrait of man with goatee beard

Unfortunately this miniature is unsigned, but it has been painted by a very talented artist. From the goatee beard and his costume, it would seem to date from around 1850/1860. Goatee beards were popular at different times, when there was also a moustache, it was usually referred to as the Imperial style, after the Emperor Napoleon III.

The detail of the sitter's head and clothing is painted with considerable skill. At first glance there appears to be some paint loss causing white splotches on his black neckchief.

However, as can be seen in the close up picture, the white marks are actually white stars that must be embroidered into the black material.

There are many miniatures in the collection from the mid 19C, where men are wearing black neckchiefs, but this is the only one where the neckchief is patterned.

From the close up image an interesting aspect of the artist's technique can be seen.

Instead of painting all of the collar white, the artist has left the collar area unpainted, so the natural ivory color shows through, and then he has used bright white for the highlights on the collar.

There were very few artists who could paint so skilfully that a painted miniature appeared to be a photograph.

John Henry Brown (1818-1891) of Philadelphia was the most famous of them and John Ramsier (1861-1936) of Kentucky was another. However, this portrait does not seem to be by John Henry Brown, as he usually signed his miniatures.

The date of this one does seem to be too early for John Ramsier, but John Ramsier did paint many copies of earlier daguerreotype and other images and when he did this, he seems not to have used a signature.

However, a more likely candidate is now thought to be John Alexander McDougall (1810-1894) who chiefly worked in Newark, NJ, but also worked in New Orleans, Charleston, SC and Saratoga Springs, NY. He also undertook portrait photography and was able to supply either painted or photographic miniatures.

Johnson comments; "McDougall remained active until about 1880, long after all the other well-known miniaturists except John Henry Brown had given up painting altogether in the face of competition from photography."

Johnson describes his work; "McDougall painted likenesses that were technically accurate, if somewhat dry and uninspired: they were typical of works of the mid-century in their deep, rich coloring, realism, and broad stippling. ...His works are rarely signed."

The sitter is unknown, but the miniature was acquired from Summerville, SC which is only 25 miles from Charleston, SC where McDougall had worked and so it is probable he received commissions from that area. 1275


Anderson, Alexander - portrait of naval officer and wife

Miniatures painted in watercolor on paper are less common than those painted on ivory, perhaps because fewer have survived for 200 years.

This interesting pair of watercolor on paper miniatures appear to be by a fairly well trained, but amateur hand. The previous owner acquired them in Erie Pa without any provenance, but naturally wondered if they represented Oliver Hazard Perry and his wife, Elizabeth Champlin Mason. This seems unlikely, but cannot be completely ruled out.

Although I am not an expert on uniforms, it does seem that the man is wearing a blue uniform jacket, such as a junior naval officer might wear, which has more buttons than an ordinary jacket of around 1805. There are three gold or brass buttons at the top of his waistcoat and the buttons on his outer coat go right up to the shoulder.

Two portraits of Oliver Hazard Perry are shown here. One is a miniature, probably painted by Joseph Wood and thought to date to around 1810. The other is an engraving, possibly of slightly later date.

Oliver Hazard Perry (1785-1819) was born in Wakefield, RI and was warranted a midshipman in the navy on Jul 7 1799 on the recommendation of his father, Captain Christopher Perry.

He was given his first command in 1809. He then had a brilliant, although sometimes controversial career, until he died aboard ship off Venezuela in 1819, a victim of yellow fever.

There is some likeness between the engraving and the watercolor portrait, but any likeness is less obvious when compared to the miniature by Joseph Wood.

Also shown here is a miniature portrait of his wife, Elizabeth Champlin Mason, believed to have been painted by Robert Fulton around 1811.

This may have been a marriage portrait, as Oliver and Elizabeth were married on May 5, 1811, having met each other at a dance four years earlier. There is a faint likeness between the watercolor portrait and the miniature of Elizabeth by Robert Fulton, but not enough to be relied upon.

Nevertheless, the pair of watercolors are good honest depictions from around 1805 and if not of Oliver Hazard Perry, may represent a brother officer and his wife, who could have been known to Perry.

The images of the miniatures of Oliver and Elizabeth shown here are copied from an exhibition catalogue dated 1957 when the two miniatures were privately owned. They have since been gifted to the MFA in Boston.

It is possible a scholar of early American watercolor portraits on paper may recognise the artist of this pair.

Update: Since the above was written about the pair of watercolors, this miniature portrait of Mrs Alexander Anderson by her husband Alexander Anderson (1775-1870) has been located in the collection of the NYHS.

It is 3 1/4ins by 2 1/4ins and there are several other miniature portrait by Anderson in the NYHS collection.

Given the similarity of style, an attribution of the pair of watercolor miniatures to Alexander Anderson seems to be a reasonable assumption, pending any closer attribution. 1272a, 1272b


Unknown - portrait of a boy

Although unsigned, this miniature was initially attributed to Thomas Story Officer (1810-1859). Unfortunately, the sitter is unknown.

However, a kind visitor has subsequently advised they believe the miniature is too late for Officer and is instead by an as yet unidentified revival miniaturist working around 1890-1900.

Additional helpful comments in support of that doubt about Officer include; "the boy is much softer and is dressed in theatrical costume, typical of many revival pieces and rarely, if ever, used during the 1840's and 50's, where the style was realism. Also, Officer did not use a solid grey background, in fact no American artist working in the 1840's did so, there is always some highlighting. "

To enable visitors to follow this logic and better understand the doubt about Officer as the artist, the earlier discussion on the attribution has been retained below.

Thomas Story Officer studied under Thomas Sully and exhibited frequently at the Artist's Fund Society in Philadelphia. He also exhibited at the National Academy of Design and the American Art Union from 1846 to 1850.

It is uncommon, but not rare for miniatures to be painted with the sitter in full or three-quarter length. Very few artists painted in this manner in the 19C. However, Officer seems to be one of the few 19C artists who did do.

In the Smithsonian American Art Museum there is one miniature by Officer, of a lady and it has some similarities to the boy in 18C costume, including being three-quarter length and with a lot of detail. It is also relatively large in size as size of 127 mm x 64 mm, see Portrait of a Lady

After visiting Australia, in 1855 Officer moved to San Francisco where he opened a studio and achieved great success. Johnson quotes a contemporary comment about a miniature Officer painted in 1858 which had earned a certificate of merit and was praised for its "delicacy of handling, force of character and expression, and exquisiteness of finish."

Officer also submitted a "photograph in oil" to a 1858 exhibition. This description sounds unusual, but is probably intended to refer to a miniature painted in so much detail, that it resembled a photograph. This effect can be seen in the miniature of two children shown below. In his obituary Officer was described as "in all probability, the best portrait painter ever in California."

Unfortunately, Officer died an impoverished alcoholic and was buried in a public plot. At the time, this was probably the major reason why he was quickly forgotten as an artist. If he had lived a full and sober life, no doubt he would have come to be regarded as a highly respected "elder statesman" painter of the 19C, as was the case with Nathaniel Rogers, Moses B Russell, John Wood Dodge, and John Henry Brown.

Johnson also comments, "To modern tastes Officer's early miniature portraits, painted from life, are more successful than his "fancy pieces", which are slick and overly sentimental. "During the mid-nineteenth century, however, works of this kind held wide appeal."

A description as "overly sentimental" seems to fit this miniature of a boy in 18C costume.

The boy is dressed in 18C costume, although the miniature is not 18C in artistic style. The boy's expression seems to be saying "Why do I have to wear this silly get-up?".

The miniature is expertly painted and the material covering the table has a lot of detail, as does his costume.The hands are well painted, usually the sign of a good artist. The detail even includes buckled shoes. As traditionally befits a miniature of a boy, the colors are sober.

This is however, also a reflection of the time when it would have been painted, when miniature painters were facing competition from photography. To combat such low cost competition, it seems that some artists tried to find a niche that was hard for photography to compete with.

John Henry Brown, went for even better quality realism, but with the addition of color. Moses B Russell and his wife, Clarissa Peters Russell tended towards a "folk art" effect with their miniatures, and Thomas Story Officer painted "fancy pieces", even using these words as part of his description on the rear of the miniature by him in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, see fig 140 in Johnson.

Within this collection are these two miniatures, both purchased at public auction without attribution, but since attributed to Thomas Story Officer. However, even so it is conceded there is more certainty about the attribution of the Hull portrait to Officer, than the one of the two children.

They are shown here but are described more fully at Officer, Thomas Story - portrait of Dr Amos Hull and Officer, Thomas Story - portrait of two children 1265


Folwell, Samuel - portrait of a man

This miniature of an unknown man has been attributed to Samuel Folwell (1765-1813) who worked in various east coast cities and died in Philadelphia. Folwell was trained as an engraver and the fine detail on this miniature, especially on the jacket buttons, supports an artist trained in this manner.

There is a miniature portrait which appears to be by the same artist in the Worcester Art Museum, see fig 68 in Strickler's "American Portrait Miniatures" although that portrait is unattributed.

It is also a profile portrait, painted around 1795, of a man (George W Tuckerman) with a queue tied with a ribbon. That miniature is on paper, but is housed in a similar ebonised frame with an identical hanger, which itself is of an uncommon and plain design.

The sitter in this miniature is unknown. 1244


Ramsier, John - portrait of Hon James Guthrie

Although this miniature looks like a photograph, it is a painting on milk glass and has been attributed to John Ramsier (1861-1936) of Kentucky. Ramsier was noted, in a similar way to John Henry Brown, for his ability to paint miniatures that imitated photographs to an amazing degree. He was also asked to copy many earlier images, both paintings and, as in this case, from photographs. His paintings tend to be on milk glass, rather than ivory, reflecting his earlier training as a photographer. There are three other miniatures by him in the collection.

Ramsier arrived in the USA in 1882 from Switzerland and was naturalised in 1897. He and his wife, Matilda lived in Louisville and had several children. In the census records, he usually describes himself just as an artist, but in 1910 stated he was a miniature painter.

The sitter is identified on a tag as Hon James Guthrie. James Guthrie (1792-1869) was a distinguished politician from Kentucky who held many important positions. Confirmation of the sitter's identity can be seen by comparison with a photo of Guthrie shown here as an older man which can be seen on the official Congressional website at GUTHRIE, James - Biographical Information and also at James Guthrie

The date of the image that this painting is made from is unknown, but as he was born in 1792 and looks to be aged in his 50's, it must have been copied from a photograph taken in the 1840's.

Comparison can also be made with an engraving showing here, which was made of Guthrie in 1852 for inclusion in a book entitled "Biographical Sketches of Eminent American Lawyers". This clearly shows him as older than the miniature and confirms the original image for the miniature must date from the early 1840's.

Guthrie was Secretary to the Treasury from 1853 to 1857. He was also a member of the Peace Congress in 1861 which tried to negotiate a means of avoiding the Civil War. As part of the process, on February 6 1861, a separate committee charged with drafting a proposal for the entire convention to consider was formed. The committee consisted of one representative from each state and was headed by James Guthrie.

He must have been one of the wealthiest men in Kentucky, as in the 1850 census he disclosed assets of $230,000 and in 1860 this had risen to $520,000. His fortune seems to have come from railroads and real estate. A city leader in Louisville, he invested in railroads, and served as president of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad and the Louisville and Portland Canal Company. He also helped found the consolidated University of Louisville and served as its second president.

He married Elizabeth Churchill Prather (1799-1836) on 13 May 1821 and they had three daughters, Ann Augusta Guthrie (1825-1872) , who married William Beverley Caldwell (1818-1892). Their second daughter was Mary Elizabeth Guthrie (1823-1901) who married Richard Henry Coke (1815-1845) and second Mr Caperton.

The youngest daughter was Sarah Julia Guthrie (4 Mar 1827-24 Jul 1901) who married John Lawrence Smith (1818-1883), showing here, who was an eminent chemist of the times. He was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1872) and of the American Chemical Society (1877).

His collection of meteorites was the finest in the United States and on his death passed to Harvard. For more about him and the family, see Doctor J. Lawrence Smith

Smith adopted a scientific approach to meteorites, as shown in two 1867 papers by him at; American Journal of Science - Google Books Result

Also note that the National Academy of Sciences awards the J Lawrence Smith Medal for investigations of meteoric bodies. It was established through the Smith Fund, by gift of his wife, Mrs. Sarah Julia Smith. The medal showing here, was first awarded in 1888, but then there was a long gap until 1922. It has been awarded more often recently and is next scheduled for presentation in 2009. National Academy of Sciences: J Lawrence Smith Medal

Many family papers from these families may be found at the library of the Filson Society in Louisville, Ky. and the family headstones are gathered around the Guthrie monument there. For other miniature portraits in the collection related to Guthrie, see Eckardt, Otto - portrait of Jane Spottswood Keller...

[Thank you to the kind visitors who left the correcting comments, now incorporated above.]

James Guthrie died in 1869 and his grave can be seen at James Guthrie Gravesite and also at Guthrie, James 1255


Edwards, Thomas - portrait of John Webster

Although unsigned, this miniature has been attributed to Thomas Edwards (1792->1866) who was active as a miniature painter in Boston from 1821-1866.

The portrait is similar to fig 13 in Strickler. With reference to two miniatures by Edwards, Strickler comments "Stylistically, these two miniatures share a delicate stipple technique, most noticeable in the background and flesh tones, and softly modelled and rounded facial features". Those comments seem to apply here.

The sitter is identified by a note inside as "John Webster Sept 10th born 1804 died Salem". There is also an accompanying tag which is hard to read, but appears to state "I think Buffington - portrait over fireplace - John Webster only son of - Fabers (?) may have first wife Buffington - first line?".

These comments have enabled the identification of the sitter as John Webster (10 Sep 1804->1880) of Salem (which is 4 miles from Danvers, MA and 20 miles from Boston.) who married Martha Buffington (1 Jul 1805->1870) of Danvers on Mar 7 1832 at Salem. Thus it was probably a marriage portrait painted around 1832, with the date and location fitting with Thomas Edwards as the artist.

John Webster was the son of Elijah C Webster (27 Feb 1774-28 Jun 1848) and Sarah Dole (Sally Dole) (?-16 Dec 1842)who were married at Danvers on 13 Nov 1800. He had a brother Albert R Webster and a sister Almira W Webster who both died young in 1811 and 1814.

John was born at Salem on 10 Sep 1804. Martha A Buffington was born at Danvers on 1 Jul 1805, the daughter of James Buffington and Abigail Osborne who were married on Apr 14 1801. (There are references to a Capt James Buffington from this area who sailed as far as Ceylon.) John Webster seems to have initially been a company agent in the 1850 census, then in the 1860 census he described himself as a clerk, although he and Martha did already have one live-in servant. However, in the 1870 and 1880 census records, he was still employed aged 65 and 75, and gave his occupation as Treasurer of New Hampshire (?) Manufacturing Company and in 1870 he had assets of $18,000.

If this is the correct reading of the company name, there does appear to have been a New Hampshire Manufacturing Company of Dover that sold sheeting, shirting, calicoes etc. see OSV - Document Viewer - Doc # 677 which may have been where he worked. 1246