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.

1 comment:

Michael Tormey said...


I myself own two superb miniatures by P. Phillips and have seen additional Phillips miniatures in other collections as well.

Thus far, I have been unable to pinpoint his/her exact identity, but I am confident that he/she is neither Caroline King Phillips nor Josephine Neill Phillips.

P. Phillips lived and worked in New York City. He/she also travelled to other cities, however, for meaningful commissions (as was common for top American miniaturists of the early 20th century to do).

He/she was active from about 1915 to 1930.

Of all the Phillips miniatures I have examined, all of them have proven to be original paintings on ivory and were not painted on a photographic base. Phillips actually did paint over photographs as well, but he/she only affixed a signature to those that were original paintings.

I would be happy to discuss this further and to share what I know with anyone who might be interested.

Michael Tormey