March - Additions

During March the most interesting additions of miniature portraits to this collection are British items which collectively touch on many historical events of the 18C and 19C.

Although, the acquisition of these miniatures in the one month is coincidental, it was very interesting to see how they were linked through the research process to the events.

The first unsigned miniature is of Charles James Fox (1749-Sep 1806) who was a fierce political opponent of William Pitt the Younger (1759-Feb 1806) for many years in the late 18C and early 19C.

Fox was a strong advocate for the abolition of slavery. He was also well disposed to America and became a prominent and staunch opponent of George III, whom he regarded as an aspiring tyrant.

Fox demonstrated his support of the revolutionaries across the Atlantic by taking up the habit of dressing in the colours of George Washington's army. The coat here is badly faded, but was originally dark blue, as can be seen at the extreme edges. Taken with the buff waistcoat, it does represent the colours of Washington's army.

See also Charles James Fox - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Although, I have not seen a direct reference that suggests it, it seems the relationship between Pitt and Fox was a little like that between Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain.

Fox was a Liberal and the founder of the modern Whig party. Unlike Pitt, Fox was a passionate advocate for peace with France. After the "Peace of Amiens" in 1802, Fox went to France and met Bonaparte with a view to paving the way for a future Anglo-French alliance.

Supposedly the two men thought highly of each other, but that is similar to Chamberlain's comments about Hitler. Perhaps as Hitler did with Chamberlain, Napoleon put up a front to convince Fox of his "peaceable intentions".

When William Pitt died in 1806, Fox immediately started negotiations with Napoleon and believed he was about to secure a durable peace, but he died a few months later. With his death, hopes for peace were irrevocably dashed and Napoleon always considered Fox's death as one of the misfortunes of his career.

Two hundred years later, some features of late 18C/early 19C politics, as well as those prior to World War II, seem to have an uncanny resemblance to aspects of the 2008 political debates between the Democrats and the Republicans! For much more about Fox see View

In the event Fox did not achieve peace with France. Thus Britain continued a long and costly war against Napoleon which lasted for a further nine years.

The most important army commander in the second half of the Napoleonic Wars was the Duke of Wellington who commenced his land campaign from Portugal in the Iberian peninsula. Thus leading to the description of the campaign as the Peninsular War.

In this campaign the bloodiest battle was regarded as the Battle of Badajos, where the British suffered very heavy casualties.

The second sitter is Major Thomas Cansh (1781-?) of the 5th Northumberland Regiment of Foot. He was the first man to scale the battlements of Badajos and live, with his commander Colonel Ridge dying in his arms. For much more about Major Cansh see View

In the 19C members of the British Royal Family were still appointed to senior positions in the Army.

The third sitter was one such person, Prince George, Duke of Cambridge (26 Mar 1819 – 17 Mar 1904) who was Commander-in-Chief of the British Army for 39 years from 1856 to 1895.

Prince George was born at Cambridge House in Hanover, Germany. His father was Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, the 10th child and 7th son of King George III and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

The Duke of Cambridge made no secret of his view that "arranged marriages were doomed to failure." He was married privately and in contravention of the 1772 Royal Marriages Act at St. John's Church, Clerkenwell, London on 8 January 1847 to Sarah Fairbrother who was an actress. For much more about him, see View

The profile miniature is of Insull Burman (1810-1884) by Barrett.

Being in civilian clothes Burman epitomises the peace of the middle years of the 19C.

Researching him has enabled some interesting "ancestor archaeology" to be conducted, albeit with several research diversions, such as the Irish Potato Famine, Bear Farming, a School for Young Ladies, the reason for the slow acceptance of Daguerreotypes in England, and the transportation to Australia of convicted pickpockets!!

For example Daguerreotypes were much more slowly accepted in England than in France or the United States as the process had been patented in England. For more about these various diversions, see View

Although there were various colonial wars, mainly in Africa, and the Franco-Prussian War, most of the second half of the 19C was peaceful and prosperity spread through most of Britain.

The Edwardian period prior to World War I is often thought of as a high point in British civilization.

The fourth unknown sitter represents this time, when elegance was an art form. She looks confident and assured, with no cares to worry her. For more about the portrait, see View

However this was all to change in 1914 with the outbreak of World War I, which caused 20,000,000 deaths by its end in 1918.

This was followed immediately in 1918 by the Great Influenza Epidemic which itself killed between another 50 million to 100 million people on a world wide basis.

At this distance, the best known image of World War I is the recruiting poster stating "Your Country Needs You".

This was based upon a portrait of Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC (24 Jun 1850-5 Jun 1916) in a pose somewhat similar to the miniature on ivory shown here.

At Scapa Flow in Scotland, Lord Kitchener embarked aboard the armoured cruiser HMS Hampshire for a diplomatic mission to Russia. On 5 June 1916, while en route to the Russian port of Arkhangelsk, Hampshire struck a mine laid by the newly-launched German U-boat U-75 (commanded by Curt Beitzen) during a Force 9 gale and sank west of the Orkney Islands.

Kitchener, his staff, and 643 of the crew of 655 were drowned or died of exposure. His body was never found. For more about him see View

The United States had its own troubles in the 19C with the Civil War being devastating to the country.

Both of these two American miniature portraits pre-date the Civil War as they date to around 1840.

That of a man is by Anson Dickinson (1779-1952) and is unfortunately affected by fading of the fugitive blue color.

This damage can be remedied by a professional restorer, but the portrait is being kept in its current condition in the meantime, as an example of the effect of the bleaching which can occur from strong daylight or sunlight.

Thus owners of miniatures should ensure they are not exposed to strong daylight. For more about the miniature see View

The miniature of the lady with a baby is by an as yet unidentified artist.

Miniatures with more than one sitter are much less common than those with one sitter and the artist often charged twice the price for two sitters.

Although the identity of the lady is not known, nevertheless her pose is timeless and can be compared with other historical portraits with a similar subject at View

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