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Historical Miniatures - Interesting Stories
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Madame Victoire

I met someone at a miniature Society function who purchased a miniature from a flea market. It's framed in what appears to be an antique French frame and she assumed that the miniature was a print. When she removed the back of the frame, however, she discovered the painting was done on some leather-like surface stretched over a hard surface that might be ivory or some kind of glass. The words “Madame Victoire and “Nattier” were on the back with other things penciled in by the previous owner(s). “Nattier” is also the signature on the miniature. Through a magnifying glass, it appears that the miniature was created from a series of tiny lines that may have been done by a one-bristle brush used during that period.

She received a little feedback from the National Gallery of Art and from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She researched at the Library of Congress and found the lovely lady in a biography on the artist Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766). It was written in French so she had a few pages translated. It pertains to a painting in the Louvre titled, “Portrait de Madame Victoire de France par Jean-Marc Nattier, 1748” which is a larger work, 81 x 64. She learned that Mr. Nattier was the official court painter for Louis XV and the subject’s full name was “Marie Louise Therese Victoria detta Madam Victoria, daughter of Luigi XV.”

This small work may have been done from the larger work, as a token or memento. The owner is still researching, but is having a grand time sleuthing info on this little work, which she hopes is the real deal!



Portrait of Madame Victoire
by Nattier


Back of Portrait

William Jenkins Worth

I was contacted by a person who was interested in having the glass replaced over the hair on the back of this miniature. I don't have the resources or knowledge to replace glass on such a precious item, so I referred her to the Wiebold Company who restores miniatures. They very beautifully cleaned the frame, replaced the fine glass over the hair, and added a bail to the top of the frame.

This is such a beautiful historical miniature and I was honored to hold it in my hand. It is the portrait of William Jenkins Worth, who is the great-great-grandfather of the miniature's owner. It was painted for his fiancee to wear as a pendant around her neck, and that's his hair in the back. Mementos such as this were often painted as keepsakes before men went off to war. His signature and 1815 are scratched into the back of the frame. Worth was a much decorated war hero and had a long interesting career. His remains are interred in a monument on Worth Square, a small piece of land in NYC between Fifth Ave. and Broadway at 25th Street. (I'll look for that next time I'm in New York!) Each spike of the fence around the memorial is topped with a plumed helmet. Several locations are named after Worth, including Fort Worth, Texas. What a cool miniature!

(read more about Worth on Wikipedia)


Portrait of Worth


Back of Portrait

A Fine Display of Scratchboard Art by Ann Schuler
click on images to enlarge

These original scratchboard art works by renowned Baltimore artist Ann Schuler were discovered in a family genealogy book owned by an antique dealer in Baltimore. They were created in 1943 and 50 years later were shown to Ann. She did them as a commission for the family. Ann learned this technique from her father and uncle, both world renowned medical illustrators.
They are just 2 x 1-1/2" in size.

Ann died a few years ago and is greatly missed. She and her husband Hans opened and ran the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore which is still going strong today.
Please visit their web site www.schulerschool.com.
Scratchboard Process:
Ann prepared her scratchboards in the old world way. It began with approx. 10 layers of rabbit skin glue and whiting, lightly sanded between layers, on a very smooth paper or board. Carbon dust was sprinkled on the paper and gently rubbed. A carbon pencil drawing was made next and various tools were used to erase, lift, blend and lightly scratch the image. It involved adding and subtracting -- the process was more about drawing and blending than scratching.

MiniArt Supply, 301-977-2190, nancy@miniartsupply.biz