January - Anna Coleman Watts Ladd

Although the prime aim of this collection is miniature portraits, as mentioned elsewhere an effort is also made to acquire items associated with the artists or sitters, as this makes the miniatures themselves more interesting.

Thus in November and December 2007, two bronzes by the important American sculptor from Boston, Anna Coleman Watts Ladd (1878-1939) were acquired to complement this miniature self portrait painted by her.

The miniature portrait shown below was acquired about five years ago and much more about it can be seen at View

Shipping of the larger sculpture was significantly delayed by the pre-Christmas rush and so it was only received in late January.

The larger of the two bronzes has two parts, a figure and a detached bowl which rests on a hoop help by the girl, with the overall height being 50cms. It is of a nymph holding aloft a bronze bowl, which is 20cm in diameter. The underneath of the bowl is inscribed "After Arretine bowl made in the 1st century BC". The base of the nymph is inscribed "A C Ladd".

One aspect about bidding at auction is that one has to rely on the auction photographs and they may not give a true feeling for the item. The only auction photograph was the left, i.e. darker of this pair and from it, I had felt that the proportions were not quite right.

However, on unpacking it and taking the lighter photograph from a lower angle, it was apparent that the proportions were very pleasing.

Similarly, the auction description did not mention that it was in two parts, nor refer to the Arretine inscription. The 20cm sized bowl portion of the sculpture is a fine piece of bronze in its own right.

Hence, overall the purchase was very pleasing, especially being acquired below the bottom price estimate.

Arretine ware is a type of fine Roman pottery coated in a red slip dating to the first centuries AD and BC. It originated in Arretium, the modern day town of Arezzo in Tuscany. Arretine ware vessels were often made from moulds in order to imitate more expensive metal items. Although intended for the markets in Rome the style was popular and soon spread across the empire and beyond. By the end of the first century AD it had been superseded by the easier to manufacture Samian ware.

Thus, interestingly, whereas Arretine ware was pottery made to imitate metal items, Anna Ladd sculpted her bowl in metal to imitate pottery!

The smaller of the two bronzes is untitled, but a reference has been seen to a work by Anna Ladd titled "The Munitions Worker" and this may be that work. It is 23cm x 17cm and is signed "A C Ladd Paris 1918".

The plaque depicts a female munitions worker in the foreground working at a lathe, and in the background three French soldiers marching towards a mother and child.

This bronze obviously dates from Ladd's time in Paris during World War I, when she was assisting her husband to make facial masks for soldiers whose faces were disfigured by the war.

For many more examples of her work and to see much more about Ladd, her time in Paris, and the miniature self portrait, see View

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