John Henry Brown - portrait of Jacob Westhaeffer

An interested visitor from Lancaster PA, USA has sent me this image and information about this miniature portrait of Jacob Westhaeffer (1818-1895) by John Henry Brown, which is helpful as another indication of his painting style.

The sitter, Jacob Westhaeffer ran a book bindery in Lancaster, and together with another business man, John Geist, ran the Lancaster Museum. That building no longer exists.

On opening the case, which had never before been opened, it was possible to photograph J H Brown's signature and date- of September 26, 1839. This was compared to a copy of the Rosenbach Museum listing of his works, and Jacob Westhaeffer (of Lancaster) is second on the list. Thus this is interesting as an early example of his work.

John Henry Brown - portrait of Anna Maria Coleman

A great pleasure in providing information on this website is the opportunity to help other people who are researching on the Internet and seeking information on 'Artists or Ancestors'. A recent letter to me read as follows and I think you should be able to share the excitement of the researcher;

I have a very exciting story to tell you. At least it was exciting to me, and judging by the information I gleaned from you, you would find it exciting too. Anna Maria Coleman is the subject of a miniature shown in the photos attached to this message. She grew up near Lancaster Pennsylvania. Her father was James Coleman, of the iron manufacturing family during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Anna was born in 1826, married in 1847, lost her husband in 1848, had his child in 1849, re-married on 14 July 1853, and had five more children by her second husband. She was my grandmother's maternal grandmother, through the girl who was born after her father's death. The miniature was long in my grandmother's keeping, and found its way to me after my father's death in 2005. The penciled label on the back of the frame is in my grandmother's handwriting. 

Finding the miniature to have considerable intrinsic appeal as well as bearing on a sad but historically formative time, I became curious to know who painted it and when. The clues accumulated slowly as I groped my way around available research material, then speeded up in the last few days. I contacted one of the curators at the Philadelphia Museum of Art about a related question, mentioned the miniature to her, and she almost immediately suggested that the painter might have been John Henry Brown. I looked around for some of his things, and for other miniaturists of the time. I had a hunch that the work was done about 1855, because she appears as a mature but still young woman. 

My search led me to your blog on Three American Miniature Portraits.
Brown, John Henry - portrait of Emily Hinds - 3 American Miniature ...
As soon as my eye lit on Emily Hinds, her brooch jumped out at me. The similarity between it and the one worn by Anna Coleman was just too hard to swallow as sheer coincidence. Then I read further, and saw the portrait of Mrs Metcalfe in a brown striped dress . . . SAME BROOCH!! Then reading over your blog again, I noticed your commentary on the similarities between the Mrs Cadwalader miniature and that of Mrs Destouet. So Brown was known to have used the same "scenery" in multiple portraits. 

Also picking up on your report that Brown's signature was very small, I went back for the third time to look for an artist's name -- I was fooled the first two times. This time I put the image under 7x magnification . . . and there it was:
 J H Brown 1853 !!!! 

You are right, his letters are less than 1 mm. I am intrigued by the tiny brush strokes around the margin of the painting -- the artist must have been testing his colors on the real material before he committed them to the actual painting. I do not know what the material is, I am pretty sure it is not ivory because I have seen a lot of it, it is a pale whitish material that looks like plastic. I have heard it said that there were various synthetic materials that may have been preferable to ivory at the time. The image by the way is 7,2 mm x 9,2 mm. So I am wondering if Brown had a catalog for 1853 that might show any further information about the painting. 

Anna was re-married at this time, and she would have gone by Anna Coleman Peace, or Mrs Peace. Her husband was Dr Edward Peace, who could have requested the painting. I imagine you can share the sense of amusement, exhilaration, and pleasure at having an artistic mystery fall into place. For a time I was struck by the irony of the Hinds miniature, where you knew the artist but not the sitter, and my predicament, which seemed just the opposite. Now I have both. I owe you a debt of gratitude for the several key pieces of information about Mr Brown that I could not have discovered elsewhere -- Thank you! 

I replied to the owner as follows; That is a great story and I am glad to have helped with your research! It is good to know that the portrait still remains within the family. Yes, the miniature should be painted on ivory, the reverse will show graining like oak timber. Synthetic materials were used quite a bit later. The work book for JHB is held by the Rosenbach Museum and Library, http://www.rosenbach.org/ so if you contact them you should be able to find the reference to your miniature. It may also mention if other family portraits were painted by JHB around the same time. If you are happy for me to do so, I would welcome the opportunity to post your story and the images on the website, but without mentioning your name, unless you wished me to mention your name? 

From your reference to the Coleman family, I wonder if your Anna Maria Coleman may be related to the Ann Coleman Watts Ladd who I discuss at http://american-miniatures20c.blogspot.co.nz/2006/04/coleman-anna-portrait-of-lady.html I have not investigated the Coleman link, but she was connected to the iron and steel industry. 

The owner then kindly provided further interesting information;

There was more excitement when I arose this Sunday morning to find your response -- you are on the early-bird side of the dateline, and no one here would answer a message for another day.

I am attaching a photo of Anna Coleman Watts Ladd, when she was 10 months old in her Mum's arms.  Thank you for directing me to your blog on Anna, I did not know any of those colorful stories. I would love to see some of her sculptures.

I did write the Rosenbach museum, but have not heard back from them. I am interested that you think Brown would have recorded some details of the miniature. 

 It would be fine with me if you would post my information on your website. Please identify me as a family member and Pennsylvania native who has wandered (one of the Wild Geese??). Your presentation of the material is clear and elegant, and my emails are more haphazard than elegant; so please feel free to edit as you see fit.  

What do you think of the circumstantial detail that the brooch might tie Mrs Metcalfe to JHB, in the absence of other clear indications of its authorship?

Whereupon I further replied;
Many thanks for the extra information and the photo of Anna. I will put together a post based on your very helpful and interesting information but it may take me a day or so to do that. I have a couple of Anna's sculptures here, but if you feel you have the cash to spare I have seen there is one of Anna's sculptures available on eBay. 

The Rosenbach detail indicates how long a portrait took and also who else was painted by JHB in the same year, but not much more than that.  Regretfully, I am doubtful that the brooch was a 'studio' piece. Mourning brooches were both very personal and very common, hence I think it was just a similar design. The lace is a different situation, as JHB took a photo of each sitter and then copied it onto ivory. Thus he could copy a single item of lace from one photo to several different sitters.

Later again - the owner advised as follows;
My story continues. You have been quite consistently right in your helpful suggestions. In October I read an original letter in Lancaster from the two daughters, dated June 1 1853, with additions by Mr. Drayton. I found it confusing. The two girls had quite similar handwriting -- one of them wrote, "I began my sittings with Brown on Wednesday, it is not at all tedious I am to go again on Tuesday. . . your own Hallie." Hallie was the familiar name for Harriet Dawson Coleman Drayton. Then there was another letter from the girls' brother Dawson on June 25th, saying "Anna I understand went to Castners yesterday afternoon (Saturday) and if she has indeed gone there I suppose will return in a day or two as she is sitting for her picture which I understand is for you."
Ms Kathy Haas of the Rosenbach did respond, and once I figured out that Anna Maria Coleman would have been using her deceased husband's surname when she sat for her portrait, she was able to find the right entries in J H Brown's journal. The following excerpts from her emails are more than I could have hoped:

 "The new name did the trick.  'Mrs. Dr. Parker' does appear in his list of miniatures for 1853 at  cost of $175. On June 18 Brown notes "Commenced a picture of Mrs. Dr. Parker, the sister of my last sitter Mrs. Drayton." He lists that he was "At Mrs. Parker's picture" in a number of subsequent entries and his entry for July 1-2 notes that he finished it. Then Ms. Haas looked back for more detail on the first sitter, and found this: " . . . the sitter was Mrs. Heyward Drayton and the picture was painted in May/June of 1853, also at a cost of $175. When he finished it, his entry on June 13-16 claimed “It is one of my best.”
So now my confusion is resolved, the letters were talking about two different paintings, one for each sister. This was the first I knew of the existence of a miniature of Hallie. Wouldn't it be interesting to see it? I suspect the alignment of four sources of provenance for a painting is unusual: a signed and dated painting, my grandmother's label on the back, two family letters, and the painter's journal. Does it get better than that?


An unknown artist and sitter

This miniature portrait is typical of the queries I receive.

It was sent by the owner who asked;
I came across your blog about miniature and would like to share with you my own miniature as enclosed. As far as I know it is a french miniature portrait, Meloche, fabricant de bretelles a Paris, approx 1800. Family heirloom. It was given to me by my german mother who lived from 1918-2010. She told me that the miniature was given to her brother by a count of the family dellascala during WWII. My uncle fell in the war so no further history of the miniature is available. I would be very pleased If you may add any further knowledge.

It is very hard to pick French artists as there were so many of them, so I replied;

Thank you for your image. It certainly looks to be a nice miniature and great that an ancestor remains with you as a family heirloom. I regret that my knowledge of French artists is not good enough to attribute it to an artist, but it is French and will be painted on ivory. Hair and beard styles are very helpful in dating and I would say his long sideburns help date the miniature to c1820. Thus he could have been born about 1790-1800. I agree it is French and his coat looks more like a diplomat, courtier, or public official than an army uniform. Presumably he gained his award at the time of the restoration, after the defeat of Napoleon. I think he is wearing the Legion d'Honneur and it should be possible to pick which level it is at Images for legion d'honneur From that information, it may be possible to determine how he fits into your family tree. I regret I cannot read French, but I think if you can find his name, the website at http://www.culture.gouv.fr/documentation/leonore/leonore.htm may have dossiers on all recipients of the award from 1802 onwards. I hope that helps?

That provided a start point for the owner to research and he has replied;
Thank you very much for your information and quick reply. You have been very helpful and I agree with your assumptions. It is much appreciated. Now I will follow your leads with great interest.

Any visitor recognising the artist or the uniform of the sitter is welcome to leave comments for the owner.


Lalanne, Mary Elizabeth - portrait of Catharine Putnam Brinley

A kind visitor has allowed me to display a signed miniature portrait by a rare artist, Mary Elizabeth Lalanne (1815-1836). Judging by the portrait showing here, her early death at age 21 deprived history and the art world of a very fine artist.

The visitor believes the portrait is of one of his ancestors, Catharine Putnam Brinley who is the granddaughter of Israel Putnam and wife of George Brinley formally of Boston and Hartford Conn.

The miniature is signed on the right "M E Lalanne". There is a miniature, fig 444, in the Metropolitan Catalogue listed under the name Miss Leland, which is suggested as perhaps being by her, but the catalogue dates that to c1840, which is after the death of Mary Lalanne.

Little has been written about Mary Lalanne, so I have done a little research. She is referred to in the Metropolitan Catalogue, which notes that she was a miniaturist of Boston who exhibited three pieces at the Boston Athenaeum in 1833 and married Dr Horace Kimball.

Their marriage record appears at  HORACE KIMBALL - International Genealogical Index / NA
Gender: Male Marriage: 04 JUL 1835 Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts.

A kind lady has posted some detailed information about her on the Internet;
"Hello Everyone:
My kinswoman, Mary Elizabeth LALANNE, was born in 1815 in Quebec, sister to
my 2nd great grandmother Caroline Veronique LALANNE. In 1835 Mary Elizabeth
married Dr. Horace KIMBALL, who was graduated M. D. from the Harvard
Medical School in 1834, studied dentistry, and went to New York in 1836,
where he became a noted dentist. He was among the first to use ether in
dental operations. He lived in Boston, Mass., Clyde and New York City, N.
Y., Orange and Plainfield, N. J.

Unfortunately, my Mary Elizabeth died in 1836, probably in childbirth.
Horace went on to marry three more times and produced 8 children by the
second wife, and one each by the third and fourth wives.

My curiosity was aroused by this family, at first because Horace named his
fifth son Arthur Lalanne KIMBALL, obviously after his first wife's beloved
brother, Arthur John George LALANNE. I had been searching long and hard for
the fate of Arthur J.G. LALANNE and just yesterday found, thanks to
Genealogy Bank , a note about his untimely death (perhaps of TB) in 1847 at
age 27.

Looking further into facts about Horace KIMBALL's family I found through
Ancestry several notes indicating that his second wife, Mary Davenport
FISHER, after producing those eight children (the last one in 1860) had died
on 9 Oct 1865 in MATABELELAND NORTH, ZIMBABWE. It seems rather unusual
for a middle-aged American matron to die just after the American Civil War

Does anyone here have this KIMBALL family in his or her database? This maybe
an error carried over from one member to another in Ancestry, or, again, it
may indeed be true. If so, I am curious for more details. What was she doing
in Africa, for heavens' sake?

Elizabeth Engle"

Purpose of the Guest Gallery

This gallery has been opened to display images of quality portrait miniatures submitted by private owners of limited numbers of miniatures who wish to share their images and help enhance the website exhibition as a reference collection of privately owned miniatures.

It therefore represents an opportunity for private owners to display miniatures that would otherwise not be seen by the public and also to invite answers to any research questions they may have about their miniatures. However, the Gallery normally excludes decorative miniatures.

Additionally, owners of more substantial numbers of miniatures can create their own free exhibition in a dedicated Gallery, such as Une Collection Francaise which shows a selection from a French collector's collection of 18C and early 19C French miniatures.

Other items for display are welcome and the owner's name and contact address will not be displayed unless it is requested. There is no charge associated with submission of a miniature portrait. An email containing images and any known details about the portrait is all that is necessary. Click on About Me for my email address to send them to.

For more about the Artists and Ancestors Collection or about recent additions to the main collection click on Home or 2008 Additions and Comment

Trott, Benjamin - portrait of Dr John Floyd

A kind researcher has submitted the information below, about a portrait by Benjamin Trott for the benefit of other collectors.

Putting an exact date or location of execution on an unsigned portrait can be an impossible task. Some times the best you can do is to answer the question “Can you place the subject and the artist in the same place?” This is an American miniature of Dr. John Floyd (1783-1837) -- a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and governor of the state of Virginia -- by the artist Benjamin Trott (1769-1843). Trott’s early 19th century male works are distinctive –thin washes of white and blue to depict an open sky, finely drawn wispy hair, elongated neck, the elegantly posed body turned to the right or left while still making direct eye contact with the viewer. Trott rarely signed or dated his miniatures and, like many artists, no diary or written list of his subjects has survived. The owner and descendant of Floyd had no idea where or when the portrait might have been painted. Research did not reveal the existence, either in print or online, of any reference to Trott having painted Floyd. So the family, with the help of a Floyd genealogist, set out attempting to determine where Floyd and Trott could have met.

John Floyd was born at a settlement on the Beargrass Creek near Louisville, Kentucky the youngest son of Kentucky surveyor and frontiersman Col. John Floyd (abt. 1751-1783), who was killed 12 days before his youngest son’s birth. Thankfully, Dr. Floyd’s wife Letitia Preston Floyd (1779 – 1852) wrote a memoir after her husband’s death which detailed her husband’s early life. After Col. Floyd’s death in 1783, his widow Jane “Sallie” Buchanan (1758 – 1812) married Alexander Breckenridge and raised a second family. But conflict between the Breckenridge family and the youngest Floyd concerned other family members – so much that it was suggested Floyd be sent away from Louisville to study at Dickenson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He would study there on and off for several years as much as the family finances would allow. Eventually Floyd returned to Louisville in 1802 where he was an apprentice to frontier doctor in order to learn a trade. In May 1804 Floyd married Letitia, the daughter of William Preston of Virginia, in Kentucky and later that year set out for Philadelphia to receive more formal training and a medical degree at the Philadelphia Medical College (now the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.)

Benjamin Trott was attempting to establish himself in Philadelphia as a miniature portrait painter by late 1803. His name appears on published Philadelphia directories almost every year from 1804 through 1820. Little is known about Trott’s early years or how he received his artistic education. He is likely the son of Samuel Trott and the child baptized as Benjamin on August 20, 1769 at the Hollis Street Church in Boston. The extended Trott family were known to be merchants and silversmiths in Boston and later in New London, Connecticut. Benjamin Trott is thought to have painted in Virginia (with the Boston artist William Lovett), New York and Philadelphia in the latter part of the 18th century before settling in Philadelphia during the time the great American portrait painter Gilbert Stuart was in residence there. Stuart found Trott’s eccentric manner and sharp whit amusing and also praised Trott, calling him the best and closest of his imitators, and allowing Trott to make copies of Stuart’s famed portrait of George Washington. Trott was also known to paint the students and doctors of the Philadelphia Medical College. So the family of portrait at first thought that it might have been possible that Floyd sat for Trott during his studies in Philadelphia between October 1804 and April of 1806, when Floyd was documented as having graduated.

But when the portrait of John Floyd was sent out for conservation, it returned with a clue. The miniature had been attached to an early 20th century wood display frame and when removed, the case revealed a hair reserve in the back. When case was opened, it revealed that the hair reserve was kept in place by a second piece of heavy card stock. Once separated, printing on one of the pieces of card stock show the letters “LEX”, for Lexington, Kentucky.

William Dunlap (1766–1839), the American producer, artist, and art historian personally knew Trott from his early time in New York as well as Philadelphia. Dunlap wrote “In 1805, Mr. Trott visited the western world beyond the mountains, travelling generally on horseback, with the implements of his art in his saddle-bags. This was a lucrative journey.” While historians have assumed Trott traveled on horseback through western Pennsylvania to Ohio then on to Kentucky, no portraits have surfaced to indicate Trott painted anyplace other than Kentucky in 1805. Kentucky was still very much the frontier of the United States at this time, but trade and travel between cities like Philadelphia and Lexington was very common place, often taking just a few weeks to accomplish. Trott would have been one of the most prominent portrait artists to visit this burgeoning area and would have been sought after by Kentucky’s the most prominent and successful citizens. Only a handful of Trott miniatures are known to exist from this Kentucky trip, including the earliest portrait of the American statesman Henry Clay (1777-1852).

So it is possible to place Trott and Floyd in Kentucky at the same time? No newspaper account of Trott’s exact time in Kentucky has been found to date. Letitia Floyd was pregnant with her first child and living with her mother at her parent’s home in Blacksburg, Virginia while her husband was in Philadelphia studying in the fall of 1804 and early 1805. But Kentucky court records show that the surviving children of Col. John Floyd were called to appear in person during a lawsuit over Kentucky land in the late summer of 1805. Additionally, records also show that the John and Letitia Floyd sold land in Kentucky in November of that year – reinforcing the possibility that John Floyd was in Lexington long enough to sit for his portrait. 

The Floyd genealogist was able to locate a descendant of Dr. Floyd’s elder surviving brother, George Rogers Clark Floyd (1782-1823.) The descendant of the George R. C. Floyd branch produced a photo of an apparent miniature which was thought to be of John Gabriel Floyd (1807-1858), George R.C. Floyd’s eldest son by his first wife, Maria Maupin, whom he married in 1806. Although a photo, this is appears to be miniature portrait by Trott but it is unlikely to be of John Gabriel Floyd who was yet to be born when Trott ventured to Kentucky. More likely, it is a portrait of the father George R. C. Floyd – painted during the same trip which yielded the portrait of his brother John Floyd.

What drew Trott to Kentucky in 1805 is not known. Yellow fever – a deadly airborne decease -- had begun to appear in the late summer of 1805 in Philadelphia and those with the means to do so often fled crowded colonial cities into the country until such time as the run of the illness had passed. It is also possible that Trott intentionally traveled to Lexington to visit the British-born landscape artist George Beck (1748-1812) whose name appears in an 1806 Lexington directory. There is circumstantial evidence that Beck and Trott may have traveled together before to Pittsburgh in June of 1804. Beck was a fellow member of the Society of Artists along with Trott and had been living in Philadelphia up until late 1804. Beck and his wife, the artist and educator Marie Menessier Beck, then moved to Lexington which was in the early stages of transforming itself into the “Athens of the West.”

Dunlap, in a letter written to his wife in January of 1806, recorded Trott’s return and that Trott had raised his prices from “30 to 40 dolls” after a successful trip. By 1808, Trott and the recently relocated Thomas Sully would be joint tenants in Philadelphia and George Beck would send a promising Kentucky student – artist William Edward West (1788-1858) – to their studio to study.

Trott’s was at his best during this time period in Philadelphia. His style would fall out of favor after 1820 and he would struggle both personally and professionally for two more decades, painting in Charleston, New York and Baltimore during the later part of his life. He died in Washington, D.C. on November 27, 1843 and was buried in Congressional Cemetery in that city in an unmarked grave.


Miniatures by Phillips

A visitor has sent me images of these two American miniatures and is keen to know more about the artist. I replied as follows to her first email and as a result has done some investigation as indicated.

My reply - From the frames I believe the miniatures are American. They may be painted over a very faint photographic base, but are still painted on ivory. Thus, the name Phillips could be the photographer's name. However, there are also two possible artists in my reference book;
Caroline King Phillips, active 1907-1923, of Boston, MA
Josephine Neall Phillips, active 1934-38 of Orange, NJ
The frames date from about 1925-1935, so I think the second one is more likely, although I cannot guarantee that.

Follow-up from the owner - Thank you so much for this information! Do you know how I can somehow see samples of work from either of these artists? I have done a small amount of Googling on both of the below names. I could not find anything on Josephine Neal Phillips. However, I was able to locate some bits and pieces on Caroline King Phillips. She was represented at numerous Art Institute of Chicago exhibitions (the earliest I found was 1907) and died suddenly on 8/18/1939. From her obituary, she did not appear to have any children. He husband was LeRoy Phillips of Boston (in 1912 her address was 29 Beacon St., Boston). Most interesting, her sister was a Mrs. Graham D. Fitch (married to Colonel Graham Denby Fitch) of Washington, D.C.. In several instances her miniatures included in the Art Institute of Chicago shows were loaned by this sister. My great aunt picked these miniatures up at an antique show in the Baltimore, MD./D.C. area. I was only able to find one example of Caroline King's work online, that of a copy of a portrait of William Shakespeare that she did on ivory that was then included as a cover plate to a book on an outline of English literature. Looks like it could be the same hand that made the miniatures that my great aunt has, but so hard to tell, given the subject and fact that it is copied from another portrait.

If anyone has more information about the artist or the sitters, it would be appreciated.


Miniature portraits of the Whittemore family

A visitor to this website has sent in this image of a group of miniature portraits she has just acquired.

She is now wondering if anyone knows more about the Whittemore family.

Her interesting email shows how a collection can start and reads as follows;

"Last week while on vacation in Georgia, I saw four miniatures for sale in a church thrift shop. As an artist, as well as a collector of antiques, these miniatures intrigued me. I got on the internet and found your wonderful, informative web site. Although I know almost nothing about this area of interest, I returned to the thrift shop and decided to buy all four. I felt that they should be kept together.

With the pictures was a typed note, which the shop copied for me stating:
“Albert Gallatin Whittemore, lawyer and teacher, born in Milton Vermont, 1797. His wife, Abby Clark, and son Yorick, who died just after this picture was taken. (Grandparents of Harriet W. Lovely.)”

I did a little research and found basically the same information on this gentleman and his family. I could not find anything about Harriet W. Lovely. The inscription on the back of the wood framed picture of the son indicates that the young man is six years old at the time of the sitting (he looks older), and that he was born in 1848, (several years after his father died, according to records!) I asked the clerk what she knew about the note and pictures. She thought that they had all been together in a box of things that was donated to the shop."

I have not tried to research the family for the visitor, but I had a quick look and did reply to the visitor with the following information.

"I am sorry I cannot pick the artist, but I think they were all painted by the same artist. At a guess I would think that Harriet W Lovely was her married name and her maiden name was possibly Harriet Whittemore?

I just had a quick look and therefore think it is possible that Harriet W Lovely may be
Her age and Vermont state seem likely. There is more if you go to that page and click on
Thus the connection of the Whittemore family with Harriet W Lovely is not yet confirmed. Therefore, if any visitor knows the connection or can pick the artist, please let us know.

Unidentified miniature and Reverend Henry Purcell

A visitor has sent me these two images, one of an ancestor Reverend Henry Purcell which the family generously gifted to the Gibbes Museum in 1989.

However, the visitor is keen to know more about the second miniature portrait, although in their research so far little has been established about it.

The portrait is on porcelain and depicts a man with a robe and chain. It is 45mm x 34mm in size.

The portrait has been shown to a number of art experts, but seemingly with little success.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to assist very much either and so have replied to the owner as follows;

Now it is confirmed it is on porcelain, not enamel, I regret it tends to remove it further from my personal knowledge.

Although I have a lot of miniature portraits, there is only one on porcelain in the collection that pre-dates 1850 and that lone one is British from around 1820 and comes from the Derby factory. There are a number of other porcelain ones in the collection, which are nearly all German, but they mainly date from around 1880-1915.

As I say it is really outside my field, but possibly to progress further, I think you could look up porcelain reference books, especially German ones from the mid 18C to mid 19C. That is, rather than you looking at more miniatures, I would suggest you instead research the porcelain technique.

I think porcelain experts are much more likely to help you with the age and origin, rather than art experts. The porcelain looks more like hard paste than soft paste to me. British porcelain tends to be soft paste, whereas Continental is usually hard paste. Thus knowing whether it is soft paste or hard paste would help decide the origin.

I have a feeling I might have seen similar German portraits on the sides of porcelain tankards, vases, or on plates. I have a feeling that British porcelain was in its infancy around 1750, so that plus the hard paste, is why I lean towards German, as they developed higher skills at an earlier date than the British factories. (I am presuming it has a smooth edge, and so has not been cut down from a porcelain tankard.)

You could also follow up with FREDERICK GLAUSER, who is the author of eBay Guides - COLLECTING EUROPEAN PORCELAIN PORTRAITS THEIR VALUE

Thus any comments which might help more closely determine the age, origin, or identification of the sitter would be very welcome.


Brown, John Henry - portrait of Mary Morgan Destouet

A visitor to the website has sent me a photocopy of this miniature, together with a little information about the sitter and is keen to know more, if any other visitor has any relevant comments to add.

The miniature is of Mary Destouet nee Maria Morgan, and was painted by John Henry Brown in 1860.

I have checked the list of twenty portraits he painted in 1860 and this one was painted immediately after he painted his miniature portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Brown describes it as being based on a daguerreotype. This usually implies the sitter had already died when the miniature was painted, although that cannot have been the case here as Mary Destouet was still alive for the 1870 census.

Mary only looks to be about 45 in the miniature and perhaps 1845-1850 was the date of the daguerreotype, with Mary feeling she did not want the miniature to record her looks at age 57, as she was in 1860.

It is interesting to compare it with another miniature painted several months earlier in 1860 by Brown and which is in this collection, see View That is of Maria Charlotte Gouverneur Cadwalader and her dress is almost identical, varying only in the fine details of the lace. I think Brown must have used the Cadwalader miniature as a model for the Destouet dress, as even the way the bottom of the lace caps are draped on the two sitter's shoulders is identical.

This perhaps seems unusual, but it may be the clothing fashion worn in the Destouet daguerreotype was several years out of date and hence Brown posed Mary Destouet in the fashion of 1860, as worn by Maria Cadwalader.

There is not a lot of information about the Destouet family available on the Internet, but immigration records show that Saturnius Destouet (sometimes Destouit) arrived in the USA in 1817 and was naturalised on 6 Jun 1817.

According to a note which the miniature owner acquired with the portrait, Destouet was a Marquis by rank and possibly fled from France a couple of years after Napoleon's defeat. A miniature portrait of him is shown here.

The marriage of Saturninus Destouet (also Saturnius Destouet) and Mary Morgan is recorded in Philadelphia on 3 Jun 1820. On 19 Sep 1828 they returned to New York from Le Harvre, France with Mary giving her age as 26, together with William H Destouit aged 31 (1897-?), on the ship "Charlemagne".

In the 1825 Directory S & B Destouet are recorded as merchants at 209 High d. h. Chestnut, one door below the Academy of Fine Arts. Destouet Bros are recorded as importers and dealers in silk goods. Saturnius Destouet is listed in the 1830 census as living in the South Ward of Philadelphia.

In the 1860 census for the 8th Ward of Philadelphis, they are wrongly recorded under the name Destoalet, but are Sartain Destouet and Mary M Destouet. Confirmation of this, is that John E Destouet aged 63, possibly a brother of Sartain, is resident in the same house.

At the 1860 census, Sartain aged 67 (1893->1866) and Mary 56 (1803-?) have five daughters; Eloise 30 (1830-?), Delia 25 (1835-?), Mary 23 (1837-?), Julia 21 (1839), and Eliza C 18 (1842-?). Sartain gives his occupation as Gentleman, his assets as $50,000 and his place of birth as France. Also in the household are a coachman and four other servants, all from Ireland and so undoubtedly emigrants escaping from from the Irish potato famine of 1845-1850.

S Destouet is mentioned in the tax records for 1863 when he was taxed at the rate of 3% on income from all sources of $5000, a total of $150. In 1864 it appears he was living at 1309 Walnut St with income of $5000. He paid tax of 5% on the first $4400 of income and 10% on the next $600. He also appears to have been taxed $2 for owning a piano (!) and at the rate of 5 cents per ounce on the value of silver that he owned, some 290 ounces. (Owners of watches seem to have been taxed $1 per watch, and owners of carriages $1 per carriage, and of a billiard table $10.) Thus his total tax in 1864 had risen to $296.50, despite his income remaining the same. However, for 1865 his income and tax remained the same as for 1864. Mary Destouet also paid tax on trustee income of $800 in 1864 and 1865.

By the time of the 1870 census on Nov 15, Mary Destouet aged 70 is living in Walnut Street Philadelphia, with only two daughters; Ellie 28 and Caroline aged 32. However, they still have five servants.

Although referred to as Delia in the census, it appears that the proper name of the second daughter was Zelie Zanade Destouet and she married Thomas Treves-Barber. Their son Thomas Henry de Treves Destouet Barber married Winifred Riddly, both of whom died in Johannesburg, SA but Thomas Destouet Barber was a doctor and the author of "Treatment of Varicose Veins of the Lower Extremities by Injection."

There seems to have been some connection between Delia or Zelie Zanade Destouet and Grand Duke Alexis in the right photograph, as the rear is inscribed by hand "To little Zillie from Wildcat".

Grand Duke Alexis (1850-1908), the fourth son of Tsar Alexander II visited the United States in 1871-72, where he was a great attraction, here being photographed with General Custer, see The Grand Duke Alexis At that time, Delia would have been aged around 45.

It seems possible however, that the inscription on the photograph may even be by General Custer himself and given as a memento to Delia, as in 1867 Custer had an embarrassing hunting experience when he thought he was shooting at a beaver, but in fact shot a wildcat. Thus the inscription may relate to this event.

A comparison of the inscription with Custer's handwriting may clarify the authorship, see The Custer Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Life of George ... - Google Books Result

The New York Times of Jun 11, 1870 refers to the marriage on Jun 8 of E Caroline Destouet, daughter of the late S Destouet of Philadelphia and T Hammersley Morgan, with the ceremony being conducted by Rev Brockholst Morgan of Chicago. It is possible that these Morgans' were relatives of Mary Destouet, as her maiden name was Morgan.

There is a Nov 5, 1905 obituary for Marie Hackley, widow of the late Victor Mayo Hackley of NY and daughter of Heloise Destouet and Moreton Stille who were married on Oct 10, 1850. Thus she was a granddaughter of the Mary Morgan Destouet in this miniature. Dr Moreton Stille was a well thought of doctor who died only four years after his marriage. There is an account of his life at Summary of the Transactions of the College of Physicians of ... - Google Books Result

Otherwise it has not yet been possible to expand on the Destouet family of Philadelphia.

Later, a kind visitor has advised;
1- The portrait miniature of 'Mrs Geo W Morgan - Grandmother
Tessiere's mother' is of Hester Leib, wife of George Washington
Morgan. George Washington Morgan was born in 1776; he was the son of
Gen Jacob Morgan of the American Revolution. The Morgans were
merchants and heavily involved in shipping and the West Indies (sugar)
trade. George Washington Morgan and Hester Leib had 4 surviving
children: Eliza Caroline (m.Anthony Teisseire), Mary (m.Saturnius
Destouet), Harriet Adelaide (m.Thomas Ashton Morgan), and George Leib
Morgan (m.Lucretia Elizabeth Hamersley).

2- The Destouet family ('portrait of Mary Morgan Destouet').
Saturnius Destouet and his two brothers, Bartholomew & John E, were
merchants in Philadelphia under the name 'Destouet Brothers'. Bartholomew may have
died or returned to France by the late 1820s; only Saturnius and John
E show up in the later records. Their father's name was John; there
were also two sisters, Adele and Zelie, born about 1802 and 1807
The father, John, along with Adele and Zelie, left the United States
in 1831 to travel in Europe; I haven't found any record of their
return to the US. Eliza Caroline Destouet, daughter of Saturnius & Mary
(Morgan) Destouet, married her 1st cousin, Thomas Hamersley Morgan,
son of George Leib & Lucretia Elizabeth (Hamersley) Morgan. The Rev Brockholst
Morgan who married them was Thomas' brother.

3- The wives of John Ringgold Wilmer ('portrait of Antoinette
Teisseire') were cousins. JRW's first wife was the daughter of
Anthony and Eliza Caroline (Morgan) Teisseire. JRW's second wife, Marie Jeanne Nathalie
de Chazournes, was the daughter of Felix and Marie Louise (Brugiere)
Marie Louise (Brugiere) Chazournes was the daughter of Charles and
Marie Antoinette (Teisseire) Brugiere. Marie Antoinette (Teisseire)
Brugiere was the sister of Anthony Teisseire.

Charles Brugiere originally worked for the firm 'Tarascon Brothers,
James Berthoud & Co'. They were Philadelphia merchants who later
established the town of Shippingport, Kentucky. After the Teisseire family's
arrival in Philadelphia in about 1800, Charles Brugiere and Anthony
Teisseire established the firm of Brugiere and Teisseire.

In about 1843, Charles and Marie Antoinette (Teisseire) Brugiere's
son, William, married Mary Morgan, daughter of Thomas Ashton and
Harriet Adelaide (Morgan) Morgan, thus completing the circle of Morgan,
Teisseire, and Brugiere.

One additional note - Thomas Ashton Morgan and his wife, Harriet
Adelaide Morgan were also cousins. Thomas' father, Benjamin, was a
brother of Gen Jacob Morgan. Gen Jacob Morgan was Harriet Adelaide's grandfather.


Portraits by an unknown American artist

Images of this nice pair of miniature portraits have been sent in by the present owner, seeking an opinion as to the artist concerned. It is therefore hoped that an expert on the subject will be willing to leave a comment identifying the artist.

A pair of miniatures featuring husband and wife is unusual, but they are known. This pair are from an early American family believed to have lived in Philadelphia in the early 19C.

The rear of the case is of an unusual design, but it does appear to be American in style, with front opening access to the miniatures themselves. The cases have not been opened by the owner and hence it is unknown whether they are signed or identified inside.

The artist will probably be apparent to many experts on American artists, but is not obvious to me. Few artists posed their subjects in this manner, where the woman is half length and the heads cover such a small portion of the available area. This style suggests that the artist was also trained in painting large portraits.

From their clothing and hairstyles, the miniatures would seem to have been painted around 1825/1835. The quality of the work is very high and so the work is by one of the better artists of the period.

Given the believed Philadelphia source, a possible artist from Philadelphia who painted in this manner and was active around these dates is Hugh Bridport (1794-1869). Thomas Sully (1783-1872) who worked in Philadelphia may also have been the artist. Another less likely possibility is Samuel Broadbent Jr (1812-1874), if they date from closer to 1835.

Other possible artists who posed some of their sitters in this way, but worked in New York, were the artists, John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840), (Henry Inman (1801-1846) and Thomas Seir Cummings (1804-1894). Thus if the sitters had been to New York, one of these artists may have painted the miniatures.

NB Since writing the above a helpful expert has suggested the miniatures may be examples of miniatures by William Foster Jones (4 May 1817-9 Dec 1873) who was born and worked in Philadelphia.


Stolen Miniature of a Man

I have been contacted by the owner of this miniature which has recently been stolen. To help them recover it, I have included details of it in the Guest Gallery, to try and alert miniature collectors who may see it. Details are as follows.

The oval miniature portrait was stolen August 18, 2007 from the Museum of Fine Arts parking garage, 20 Museum Road, Boston.

Ironically, the owners were visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum at the time, site of a renowned never solved art theft.

The owners are offering a reward for the safe return of the miniature. It depicts an ancestor and has been in their American family for seven generations. It is approximately 3 inches high (7 cm), but precise dimensions are not available.

It was painted in Paris in 1817-1818 and signed by Dubasty, Palais Royale No. 148. It is a painting with significant age, history, value, and unusual beauty.

If you see it or have any information, please let me know at collector@actrix.co.nz and I will pass the information onto the owners.

If other visitors to this website have had miniatures stolen, I am willing to display them in this section in an effort to aid their recovery. Also note that some stolen miniature portraits can be seen at Find Stolen Art - View Stolen Items


Eliot family portraits

Shown here are in the Guest Gallery are several out of quite a large group of miniatures that have been sent in by a visitor to the website. They represent miniature portraits of some of his ancestors. Unfortunately none of them are signed, but a selection of those he has kindly submitted are shown here in the hope that an expert on British miniatures can leave a comment identifying the artists.

That has now happened very quickly for William Granville Eliot (as by William Wood) and we are very grateful for that

The miniatures show how clothes and hairstyles changed over a period of around sixty years for members of a single family. Although they are all by different artists, a family likeness can be discerned across the group.

The earliest one is from around 1755 and is of Granville Elliott. He is wearing a blue coat with gold braid. The artist is unknown and could be either British or French.

Granville Elliott (1713-1759), the only son of Major General Roger Elliott, married firstly Jeanne Therese du Han, Comptess de Martigney and he was raised to the title of Compte de Morhange. He died of wounds received at the Battle of Minden during the 7 Years Wars in Germany. For more see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granville_Elliott

The second is from around 1780 when clothing styles were plainer than in 1750. It is of Francis Perceval Eliot wearing a red coat. Although it is not certain, this looks like the work of the famous British artist John Smart (1742-1811).

Francis Perceval Eliot (1755-1818), was the son of Granville Elliott and he reverted back to the correct spelling of the family name, Eliot. He was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the 2nd Staffordshire Militia in 1803.

He wrote for the Aegis newspaper and also wrote a number of books on finance and military matters.

For more about him see - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Perceval_Eliot

Dating from around 1805 is a fine miniature of William Granville Eliot wearing a blue army uniform. As can be seen in the comment left for this entry, a kind visitor has now attributed it to William Wood (1768-1809) who was one of the very best artists of that period.

William Granville Eliot (1779-1855) was the eldest son of Francis Perceval Eliot. He had a notable military career, including receiving a siver metal clasp for his part in the Battle of Talavera.

He also fought in the Battle of Fort Lillo and the Battle of Bergen-op-Zoom, and was the author of "A Treatise on the Defence of Portugal".

The fourth portrait, from around 1820, is of Henry Algernon Eliot wearing a naval uniform. This miniature is also unattributed.

Henry Algernon Eliot (1788-1857), was 6th son of Francis Perceval Eliot. He was a distinguished Royal Navy Officer, whose life is contained in the "British Naval Biography". He commanded the Tonnards boats up the River Tagus in 1810 in cooperation with the British troops occupying the Torres Vedras.

He also served on the Brazilian station in the Creole under Commander Lord William Bowles and in 1819 was promoted to command of the Icarus sloop, which he commanded until June 1821.


Dutch collector - group of portraits

A Dutch collector has sent in two nice groups of portraits for display. This group is of four ladies and one man.

As can be seen, from the additional images, two of these miniatures appear in the dictionary by Nathalie Lemoine-Bouchard.

The fine miniature of a lady with the elaborate headdress is identified as

Marie-Antoinette Robin (1745-1814) and the miniature is signed Tibaut 1784.

The striking portrait of a man in uniform is Louis Napoleon, the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte. This is signed by F Moutier. Louis Napoleon was first King of the Netherlands from 1806-1810.

The lady in the red dress is signed Bertrand on the front and has been attributed to Vincent Bertrand. He was a well regarded French artist born in 1770 and a pupil of Regnault.

The lady with a cloak held by a strap over her shoulder in a Nattier style may be an early copy of a classical portrait, as she looks to be a Greek or Roman goddess. She is signed S Palliard. Little is known about this artist, but he seems to have been active around 1789-1791.

The artist and sitter in the fifth portrait are unknown. Thus any comments would be welcome.


Dutch collector - portraits of three ladies

Expert opinion would be welcomed by the owner of this group of miniature portraits, who has submitted them for display in the Guest Gallery. He hopes that a visitor to the site may possibly recognise the artists or the sitters (they can be enlarged by clicking on the images). If so, he would be grateful if you would please leave any comment on the form provided, which can be accessed via the comments link below.

The oval ones are both oil on copper 90 mm high and are of ladies wearing 17C clothing. They appear to be Dutch or English, both painted around 1650 and are very good examples from that period.

In the opinion of Don the Collector, and given the crown over one portrait, as well as the similarity to figs 341 and 342 in Graham Reynolds' book about the 16C and 17C miniatures in the British Royal Collection and the engravings shown below, it seems quite likely the sitters are each one of; Mary, Princess of Orange (1631-1660), Louise Henrietta, Princess of Orange (1627-1667), or Albertina Agnes, Princess of Orange (1634-1696).

The three prinesses were not too different in age around 1650. It is interesting to note that the visible portion of the dress on the left hand portrait, below the lace collar, appears to have a pattern similar to the Union Jack.

Another portrait of Mary Stuart (1631-1660), Princess Royal, Princess of Orange and the daughter of Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of Bourbon, painted by Jean Petitot, is fig11 in Schaffers-Bodenhausen's book on the Orange-Nassau Collection.

This latter portrait is believed to be a possible source for the two portraits in the British Royal Collection and in turn is thought to be based upon a large oil portrait of Mary Stuart by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656).

Honthorst spent some time at the court of Charles I. He is noted for his large oils and his portrait of Mary Stuart, which is in the NPG, can be seen at http://images.npg.org.uk/OCimg/weblg/1/7/mw09417.jpg Apparently, a very similar portrait signed by Honthorst and dated 1657 was sold at Christie's 4 October 1946, but the date of 1657 would have been after he died, so the signature must have been a later addition.

Shown here are three engravings based on separate portraits of three different Princesses of Orange all painted by Honthorst. They were all engraved around 1650. Firstly, of Mary Stuart engraved by G Visscher.
Secondly, of Louise Henrietta engraved by J Brouwer.
Thirdly, of Albertina Agnes, also engraved by J Brouwer.
There are similar engravings of two other Princesses of Orange; Henrietta Catherine (1637-1708) and Mary (1642-1688) but they seem a little young to be the sitters in these two miniatures dating to around 1650.
As can be seen the portraits are very similar and so it is difficult to decide which Princess of Orange is most like the two miniatures shown here.

Based upon the curl on their shoulders, perhaps one is Louise Henrietta and the other is Albertina Agnes.

Thus 17C miniature painters copying from one of these engravings, are likely to be the artists for the two miniatures, and the identification of the sitter as a Princess of Orange, fits both the age of the portraits as around 1650 and a Dutch origin. However, expert confirmation, correction, or other comment would be welcomed by the owner.

Mary Stuart married William of Orange and was the mother of King William III of England.

The circular miniature is on ivory 90 mm high and appears to be French, with the lady wearing clothing from around 1815. The quality of this miniature is exceptional, as can be seen by clicking on the image.


New Zealand collector - portraits of the Atkins family

It is unusual to find a family group of portraits, as they frequently get split up amongst the heirs. The owner of these portraits who is descended from the Atkins family has kindly allowed them to be displayed here. Unfortunately none of the portraits are signed, but from an inspection of them it seems the two ladies could be by one artist, with the miniatures of the two men by a second and third artist.

As they have only recently come into his possession, the owner is currently undertaking some family history research to try and confirm the identities of the sitters. Thus the preliminary comments made below, may need to be amended in due course.

The first portrait is inscribed on the reverse "Mrs Atkins nee Miss Shutt married Thomas Atkins". A marriage of Thomas Atkins and Jane Shutt did take place in 1804, but the style of the dress of the sitter could suggest it may be from an earlier generation. 117

The second miniature portrait of a man wearing a green coat is accompanied by a note which reads; "Probably Thomas Atkins eldest son of the Thomas Atkins who married Ann Unwin. This one married Miss Shutt and had two children Thomas Shutt Atkins and Jane Atkins."

However at first thought, this seems a little doubtful, as the marriage of Thomas Atkins and Jane Shutt is recorded on 13 Sept 1804 at Walthamstow Essex, whereas the costume of this sitter looks to be closer to 1775.

Instead it seems perhaps more likely it is the Thomas Atkins who married Ann Unwin in 1773. 133

The third unsigned miniature portrait of a young man in a brown coat is accompanied by a note that reads "Thomas Atkins & Ann Unwin married at St Alphage, London Wall in 1773" and the marriage record for them has been located on 17 Jul 1773 at Saint Alphage, London Wall.

It may in fact be that the two notes have been reversed, with the man in the brown coat being the younger Thomas Atkins who was married in 1804, as the style of his coat collar and hair is somewhat later than that on the man in the green coat. 134

At The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London 1674 to 1834 there is an interesting reference on 11 April 1833 to Thomas Shutt Atkins where he is a witness at the trial of a certain Thomas William Peppers on charges of deception and forgery. Thomas Shutt Atkins gives his occupation as insurance broker and appears to occupy premses at 20 Birchin Lane, London. The defendant, Thomas William Peppers was found guilty by the Court and was sentenced to be transported for life, presumably to Tasmania, Australia.

The fourth miniature portrait has the remains of a label on the reverse which reads as follows ""(sis)ter of Thomas Shutt Atkins - (a)unt of Thomas Howell Atkins". The sister of Thomas Shutt Atkins was a Jane Atkins, so she would seem to be this sitter.

However, Thomas Shutt Atkins' parents (Thomas Atkins and Jane Shutt) were only married in 1804 as per the adjacent notes. This lady seems to be wearing clothes from around 1780 and so it appears she is perhaps from an earlier generation of Atkins, perhaps even Ann Unwin, the mother of Thomas Atkins and thus the grandmother of Thomas Shutt Atkins. 135

The fifth portrait is believed to be Edward Warner who was married to his second wife. Ann in 1809, but died in 1815 aged 71 at Walthamstow.

Chilean collector - Antonio Meucci portraits

Shown here is a group of portraits associated with Antonio Meucci (Anthony Meucci) (?-1852). They have been kindly supplied by a descendant of Meucci, together with most of the information contained here. It therefore provides an opportunity to record some information about this artist who is not well known. The first one shown may well be a self portrait of the artist, or failing that a portrait of him by his wife Nina Meucci who was also a miniturist.

Meucci arrived in the United States from Rome, Italy in 1818 and worked in various American cities including New York, Portland (Maine), Richmond, Baltimore, Charleston, Salem MA, and New Orleans. His wife Nina was also a miniature painter and in 1824 they exhibited four miniatures at the American Academy of Fine Arts. While in Charleston they advertised that they could teach young ladies to paint figures, landscapes and miniatures in fifteen weeks. Meucci returned to New Orleans from Salem MA in 1826-7 and it seems that his last work in New Orleans was as a scenery and backdrop painter at the opera. Julien Hudson (Jules Hudson (?-1844) a black American was perhaps the first and only African miniaturist in USA before the Civil War and was a pupil of Meucci in New Orleans 1n 1826-7.

References have been found to a Anthony Meucci who lived in New York and was a stage painter. Antonio Meucci lived in that city and did this work in New York and elsewhere. As both also lived briefly in Cuba, it seems certain they were the same person.

The Meucci's left USA for good in 1827 heading for Havana Cuba. The next information known about Meucci is that he arrived in Cartagena, Colombia from Kingston, Jamaica about the middle of 1830 where he saw the very sick Simon Bolivar marching into town. While there Meucci painted a miniature portrait of Simon Bolivar, which is considered the last portrait of Bolivar painted from life. Meucci painted about 12 copies of this portrait. One of the portraits can be seen at www.museonacional.gov.co/body_propaganda.html For more about Simon Bolivar see Simón Bolívar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Meucci painted widely in South America until 1837 and died before 1852 in Lima or Guayaquil.

The portraits displayed include a family group (although this looks like a photograph, it is not a photograph, as can be seen from an enlarged version by clicking on it), which shows Richard Souter, formerly of Scotland, together with his wife Sabina Meucci (1805?-1884), who was the daughter of Antonio Meucci. Also in the group is Rosalba Huerta Meucci the daughter of Sabina by a previous marriage, so she must have been a widow. Richard Souter was either a diplomat or merchant in Colombia and may have drowned in a shipwreck in 1841 near Liverpool.The two small children in the group portrait are the owner's great grand aunt Helen Souter, who later married William Waddington in Chile and the baby is his great grand father Frederick Souter Meucci 1837 - 1876 who is buried in Valparaiso, Chile. The owner deduces that the portrait was drawn in Cartagena, Colombia in early 1838. However, it is not certain the portrait was drawn by Antonio Meucci, and may even be by Nina Meucci.

The three miniature portraits and one engraving of young ladies are all believed by the family to be portraits of Nina Meucci, made by Antonio. The lady in a white dress and wearing a miniature is wearing a shell comb that looks to be the same as the one in the engraving of Nina. The lady in green is signed Meucci on the left. The lady wearing the mantilla headdress is signed on the left "Nina Meucci by A Meucci 1822". The engraving of Antonio Meucci's wife shown here, is inscribed at the bottom "Signora Nina Meucci - Drawn on Stone from the Life by A Meucci". Nina was also a miniature painter.

On 27 February 1834 Meucci was advertising in a Lima, Peru newspaper offering to paint miniatures and natural sized portraits in oil. In the advertisement, he also offered to draw imitation engravings on ivory paper. Thus the portrait of his wife may be one of these, despite the statement that it is drawn on stone.

The owner of these portraits kindly allowed these portraits to be shared after seeing the portrait in this collection which is by Antonio, see Meucci, Antonio - portrait of a man and shown here as the man with a striped waistcoat.

There are also several portraits by Meucci in the New York Historical Society Collection, the Museum of New Orleans, and one in the Manney Collection.

Most of the following additional comments about his career have been also kindly supplied by the descendant of Meucci who owns these portraits.

The history of Meucci is typical of itinerant miniature painters. He entered the United States from Europe, arriving at cities where there were established artists. Additionally, it is probable that his command of English was initially limited. Thus he was not well placed to build up a clientele where miniatures could generally only be afforded by the well off or professional classes, who were a small minority of the community. Then, as now, paintings by established artists, were preferred, and once a couple had their own portraits painted, there was little opportunity for a painter to expect repeat business. Thus his gradual drift southwards, is a sign he was seeking new clients, as the following records show. The Spanish language is closer to Italian than English, which may have been an additional benefit that Meucci could exploit, whereas native English speaking artists from the USA tempted to move South to seek work, would have found the Spanish language a barrier.

1828 Meucci is believed to have made a trip to Bogota
1830 in Cartagena from Jamaica, when he painted Bolivar
1831 Rionegro
1832? Medellin
1832 Popayan in the South of Colombia, in his way to Peru

These trips can be followed by the trail of his paintings and comments made about him, as in the following quotation in "Papel Periodico Ilustrado" Year II page 411 by Alberto Urdaneta. "in those days decorative arts did not shine in these countries, which were devoted to the glories of Belona. We know nothing of the biography or aesthetic studies of the Italian Meucci, nor why or when he came to Colombia. If we can judge him by the works he left us, he was not an outstanding miniaturist, but an artist of spirit, because with love and eagerness he reproduced many times the image of "The Liberator".

The reason Meucci left Bogota, Colombia, is apparently because he had a quarrel and left Bogota hurt by the sarcastic, but perhaps correct criticisms of the acknowledged miniaturist Don Jose Maria Espinosa. The conflict between Meucci and Espinosa who were both painters of Bolivar, may have been because Meucci made copies of an original work by Espinosa. In fact many of Espinosas supposed originals are now considered to be the work of Meucci.

There are sometimes harsh criticisms of his work. In "los retratos de Bolivar" by Alfredo Boufton, there is the comment "A. Meucci was one of Bolivar's painters with the least realism. His drawing is often imperfect and his brush of a reduced and poor impression and colour blending".

Meucci was in Popayán in the South of Colombia in 1832 and he traveled from there to Lima Peru. It is likely that he made his trip by land to Quito-Ecuador and then to the port of Guayaquil, where he traveled by sea to the port of Callao and then to Lima where he lived several years. It was impossible to travel by land from Ecuador to Peru in those years. Meucci published in “The Mercurio Peruano” newspaper, on September 7, 1833 and then on October 18 and 19 the same advertisement, in a slightly archaic Spanish:

ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE PUBLIC. "Antonio de Meucci, portrait painter native from the city of Rome, has the honor to inform the most respectable public, that he has moved his studio to the corner of the small plaza of Saint Augustine, in the second floor of Mr. Blanco’s well known house, where the carpenter's shop is located. The many portraits that have been ordered, and the favorable reception that his works has attained in this city, makes him cherish the hope that he will be hired from now in the future, as he has been up till now in the practice of his art. A collection of his portraits are displayed in one of the parlors of the mentioned house and can be seen by the persons who would like to hire him. It is informed that ladies portraits will be perfectly finished in three days, taking the trouble of only half an hour each day, in whose homes he will attend at the agreed hour: and those of gentlemen will be completed in two days posing half an hour a day."

It is likely the collection of portraits, which he refers to in the advertisement, includes the miniatures of Nina Meucci shown above.


Meucci placed advertisements in several newspapers in Lima offering his services. In "El genio del Rimac" (newspaper) Lima 27 February 1834. "Don Antonio de Meucci Roman portrait painter offers his services to this respectable public in painting miniatures and also portraits of natural size. He also offers a new method of painting on ivory paper imitating engraving. Its cost will be only 12 pesos" etc etc.

Meucci was in Lima till 1834 and left for Guayaquil where he is thought to have lived for several years. In Guayaquil he trained the Peruvian painter Quispe (which is an Indian name). He was back in Peru in 1837 when he sold in Lima to the British Ambassador Dr. Bedford Wilson an unfinished portrait of Bolivar. Wilson added at the back with his own hand: "This is the best and only good interpretation of General Bolivar." Bedford Wison was a British (perhaps Irish?) officer on the staff of Simon Bolivar, where he was a trusted and close aide-de-camp. When Bolivia declared independence, Bolivar wrote its Constitution and commissioned Wilson and another English officer to carry the document to Bolivia in a trip of 1800 miles.

Another quotation about Meucci is found in an Internet Biography of Jose Maria Espinosa. "He was very prestigious in Lima by 1840 as the scenographer of an Italian Opera Company. His trail can be followed in Lima until about 1847". In 1843 Meucci's daughter Sabina Meucci, probably a widow, was in Lima as teacher of drawing and piano at the School of Santa Cruz de Atocha, a school for orphan girls. In 1845 Sabina was the principal of the "Colegio de Educacion del Espiritu Santo" (Educational College of the Holy Ghost) located in Miraflores, an elegant summer resort very near Lima.

It seems Meucci lived at least 15 years in Ecuador and Peru, much more than in Colombia or the United States, but has left no knowledge of any miniature or painting in this period. Meucci must have died between 1847 and 1851. It is presumed in Guayaquil, because Frederick Souter Meucci, the great-grand-father of the current owner attended school there. Sabina and her children migrated to Valparaiso Chile where her daughter Rosalba Huerta Meucci was living with her husband Manuel Belinfante.

The cost of his portraits has been deduced in the following manner. It appears that the price of the early newspaper The Mercurio Peruano's" was one Real and 8 Reales is believed to equal one Peso. So if .as mentioned above, Meucci charged 12 Pesos for one of his miniatures, that would make 12x8 = 96 Reales per portrait. As a newspaper now currently costs about $1 American dollar, Meucci would have earned about $100 dollars per portrait in present day values.

Meucci informed his clients that it would take one and a half hour for a lady to pose and a gentleman one hour in two sessions. This means that Meucci could easily paint 20 portraits a month if he had the clients, earning about $2,000, a month in present day values, which while not high, seems a reasonable estimate.

Santiago had a population of about 40,000 in Meucci" time and Lima could not have had more than 100,000 inhabitants. However, 90% of this population was poor and uncultured and had no interest in miniature painting. This means that Meucci had to work with a very small possible client population not more than 5000-10000 persons in the biggest cities. To make things worse for him, much of this limited population was babies and children, and other painters were working simultaneously.

Earlier thoughts had been that Meuuci was a kind of nomadic soul who worked in at least seven cities in USA in ten years, and painted in at least six cities in Colombia in two years, as well as other places in Central and South America. However, the reason for his wandering appears clear. If Meucci could paint easily 200 portraits a year, in a very few months he would run out of clients. Thus his wanderings were the results of a demographic problem, not the quality of his paintings, nor of his character. This probably also why he sought work as a scenery painter in many places.

The Other Antonio Meucci

As there is sometimes a little confusion with another Antonio Meucci who invented the telephone, the following are some details about him. This other Antonio Meucci (1808-1889) was an immigrant from Florence, Italy, who arrived in New York in 1835. It is a little difficult to track him through the census records, but his wife's name Esther is a clue. In the 1850 census he described himself as "Gentleman" and his place of birth is recorded as France, probably because the census taker misheard the word Florence. In 1860 he seems to be recorded as Antonio Mcio, a foreman in a candle works and he had a servant Mary Taney, presumably to look after his wife. His name is not obvious in later census records. When his wife, Esther, became paralysed in the 1850's he rigged a system to link her bedroom to his workshop. He held a public demonstration of his invention in New York in 1860, but was unable to aff0rd the $250 patent. In 1871 he filed a one-year renewable "notice" of an impending patent, but could not afford to renew it. Then in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell, who shared the laboratory with Antonio Meucci and thus had access to his work, successfully filed a patent for a telephone. Meucci sued, but the legal action ceased on Meucci's death in 1889. However, in June 2002, the United States Congress finally recognised Meucci as the father of communications.