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.

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