February - The market place

The Market Place
There seems to be a few signs of increasing interest in miniature portraits, with the Richmond Register newspaper suggesting them as a form of investment, see Antiques and the economy

During February there was also strong competition at online and live auctions for several American miniature portraits from the early 19C and 20C.

A group of three miniatures were offered by one seller, which had belonged to a single family. They appeared to be daughter, mother, and grandmother and must have been together for the last one hundred years.

The daughter and grandmother were signed by Elsie Dodge Pattee and sold for around $1400 each.

Sadly, the buyer of those two did not bid on the miniature of the mother, probably rejecting it because it had a photographic base under the paint. In the event it sold for around $100, hence the family has now been split up.

Another family was also split up at auction, although strangely they were offered by two different sellers. It seems likely they were bought at a local auction by two dealers and then resold on the Internet.

Purchased by the wealthy buyer of the Pattee miniatures, was this 1915 miniature portrait by Mabel Welch of Jane Barnhill Peverley of New York, the wife of Ralph St Lawrence Peverley, which sold for about $1200.

A miniature of Jane's husband, Ralph St Lawrence Peverley by Violet Brunton was offered by a separate dealer and sold for $2700, but it is not known whether the collector who purchased it was the same buyer same as for his wife. If not, it is again unfortunate the husband and wife have now been separated.

The reason for the high price for his portrait was twofold.

Firstly, that the miniature was commissioned in 1929 as a gift by King Alfonzo XIII of Spain. It is believed Ralph Peverley was a civil engineer and so was perhaps a gift to Peverley for civil engineering work undertaken in Spain. He appears to have arranged for Peverley to be dressed in matador's clothing, as a special honour.

Secondly, the frame was by perhaps the most important British silversmith of the 20C, Omar Ramsden. The frame being very ornate and intricately engraved on the reverse.

A kind visitor has researched the Peverley family and has sent the following information; "Julia James Barnhill Peverly's father was James William Barnhill, and her great grand Parents were William Barnhill and Ruth Boone. This family has an extrodinary history. Not many people know this about Julia's brother Oliver Paul Barnhill he married Enrico Caruso and Dorothy Parks Benjamin."

More can be found at the visitor's blog at; James William Barn the Grandson of William Barnhill and Ruth Boone

Purchased separately, but by a single buyer, were two early American miniatures of children, one for about $700 and the second for just over $2000. Thus the purchaser must have felt they had a real bargain after the closing price for the first of the two.

The miniatures appear to be siblings, one engraved John Garniss Austen 1849 and the other George Austen 1853. I could not pick the artist, although John Carlin is a possibility. Hopefully, this pair will remain together in the future.

Dawson and Nye sold several early American miniatures, including a soldier for a hammer price of $750 and one of a gentleman for a hammer price of $1600.

The soldier was an unusual miniature, although cracked and rubbed. While the one of the gentleman was in very good condition. Neither artist was obvious.

Two other miniatures can be attributed to James H Gillespie, being typical of much of his work. The rectangular metal case is attractive, with these cases being quite uncommon. This sold for $570.

The second one was sold for a hammer price of $400 (say $500 in total) by Skinners. It gives an indication of how descriptions can be wrong and need to be carefully reviewed. The sitter was said to be Capt William H Pierce aged 21, born 1835, served in Civil War and made Colonel in 1864.

However it must be a previous generation, as the costume dates to around 1835 and Gillepsie is only recorded as active up to 1838. Thus, it is perhaps the father of Capt William Pierce.

1 comment:

Jeannette said...


Estelle Kathleen Barnhill Evans was also had a her portrait done by Mabel R. Welch date 1911.

Here portrait is listed as
Title: Mrs. S. Keith Evans

It was donated by Mabel R. Welch January 24, 1958 to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

I also E-mailed you to. I just came across the picture on March 8, 2009. I was researching who Mabel R. Welch was and that is how I came up that Estelle was also painted by Mabel as Well.

I was so happy when I found a picture of her.

Also I just located a Film that Julia and Estelle's brother William Roy Barnhill donated to the University of New Hampshire 16 mm black and white with his work with the United Nations. 4 of the films were donated and it was produced in 29 languages. It was in article November 1, 1954 Portsmounth New Hampshire paper.

Also in my blog, I listed all of the main celebrites that Oliver Paul Barnhill married.

Also on Julia she knew author named Carylon Keller and a Book dealer told me about a book that was signed and dated to the family that she will be sending me. Its Called sammie and Stubbie and other friends.

Also I am still working on your author. Just to let you know I didn't forget. Also the picture of Estelle is in by blog that was done by Mabel R. Welch.

Jeannette K. Rook