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It is said that portrait miniatures developed from techniques of miniature paintings in Medieval illuminated manuscripts. As their popularity increased, especially in the mid-18th century, they were often given as gifts or remembrances of men going to war or daughters getting married. James I of England gave many of himself as diplomatic or political gifts. Interest in portrait miniatures naturally declined upon the development of daguerreotypes and photography in the mid-19th century. However, the art form did not die out, and the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers, which was founded in 1896 and whose patron is HRH The Prince of Wales, will hold an exhibition in London later this year.
In this miniature portrait, our very pretty young lady is holding a lap dog, namely a King Charles spaniel. The girl’s hair is elaborately coiffured with a wide blue ribbon securing the long length of her brunette locks in the back. It is obvious that she had a lady’s maid create the beautiful hairdo. Her features are finely painted. She is wearing lipstick and has a coquettish expression. She probably was the daughter of an aristocrat or a young, newly-married upper-class lady.
Her costume looks to be one of silk or satin as it has a slight sheen. The artist painted the background in a soft green to contrast the portrait with just the right hue and shade to harmonize with it. It is signed on the right lower part of the oval oil painting, but I have not been able to identify the artist.
This beautiful 19th century Continental portrait is in its original papier mache frame with convex glass secured by a nicely decorated brass mount. There is the original decorative brass ring attached on the top, as was the style of the period. On the back is a remnant of a collector’s label that was pasted over some old print that I am guessing is Latin.
The condition is excellent, especially for its age and type. I have taken the portrait out to photograph it, as the antique curved glass slightly distorts the image. Although the painting does not go to the edges, the brass oval mount mostly obscures this as seen in the photo of the portrait within its frame.
It measures 4-1/8 inches wide by 4-3/4 inches high, including the frame.
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