March - The market place

In the past month there have been several interesting American miniature portraits sold at auction, including one of a man holding a letter which was sold by Skinners for a hammer price of $2000, compared to an estimate of $2000/$4000.

It was described as "Possibly the work of James Peale (American, 1749-1831) - Portrait Miniature of William Cobbett. Unsigned. Sitter, artist's name, and date inscribed on paper backing "William Cobbett by James Peale 1788"; indistinct name "Cobbe--" inscribed on top of booklet sitter is holding in his right hand."

However, I have some doubt that it is the work of James Peale. The clothing of the sitter is much later than 1788, I would think no earlier than 1810, and rectangular miniatures were very rare before 1810.

At the same Skinners sale several other lots went for well above their estimates.

A pair of a man and a lady, although in slightly different frames, sold for $1600 compared to an estimate of $300/$500. I think these may be by Nathaniel Rogers (1787-1844) as they seem to have the fineness of detail for which he is noted.

However, a kind visitor has suggested they may be by Chester Harding.

A revival miniature, unusually painted on tin, of Wendell Phillips by Peter Baumgras (American, 1827-1903) sold for $1400 compared to $500/$700.

One of J W Quincy Esq with a blue and pink, at the bottom, sky went for $1400 compared to $800/$1200. I had thought this may be by Raphaelle Peale, as several of his miniatures have the sky graduating from blue to pink.

However, a kind visitor feels it is probably too late for him and on reflection, I am inclined to agree.

Heritage Auction Gallery sold a miniature said to be Andrew Jackson, only 0.75" x 0.875" in size, but in very poor condition for $3750 compared to $4500/$6500. The spectacles look to have been retouched.

Heritage also sold a miniature of John Quincy Adams described as "The present painting is presented nicely under glass in a vintage, but probably not original, frame, with old label on reverse in what appears to be a 19th century ink handwriting. "John Quincy Adams, President U.S.A., painted on ivory by Marchant, 1835. It is signed "Marchant" above the right shoulder in the field." It sold for $7000 compared to an estimate of $4000/$6000.

Alderfer Auctions sold three lots containing very nice mourning miniatures for hammer prices between $2000 and $2500, compared to very low estimates, each in the region of $200/$500.

These do not often come on the market and it was not surprising that these all sold far above their estimates, as they have a great deal of sentimental appeal and usually sell for quite high sums.

With these it is often hard to tell whether they are American or British in origin.

I would lean towards these being American, although that is not certain.

Insofar as American miniatures are concerned the highlight of the month was an unidentified portrait by Daniel Dickinson (1795-1866) and signed D.D.1832 at the lower right. This was sold by Cowans auctions for a hammer price of $8500 compared to an estimate of $4000/$6000.

This miniature was in a fine case containing Dickinson's trade label printed on the interior silk. The trade label has some similarity with one which was acquired and featured in the December 2007 additions.

The differences being that was printed vertically and not horizontally, and also the wording and its placement is different. This one reading D. Dickinson/Miniature Painter/at Earles/No.169 Chestnut St/PHILAD, whereas the December one read D Dickinson - Miniature Painter - at Earles - Chestnut above 5 - PHIL see View

Inclusive of buyer's commission the price achieved was $10,200 and probably a record for this artist, especially for an unidentified sitter.

Perhaps this is a sign of investors looking for an investment haven outside the financial markets, as possibly was the following pair.

During March this nice pair by John Wood Dodge was offered at an Internet auction.

The sale price was $8350 which seems quite a reasonable price for a named pair by Dodge as pairs do not often come on the market.

The sitters were Mrs. Sarah F. Maguire and Mr. Edward Maguire. Dodge painted Sarah's portrait from life, and completed it March 14th, 1845 in Nashville, Tennessee. However, Edward's portrait was painted from a daguerreotype much later in Dodge's career, as it was completed May, 1878 in Chicago, Illinois. Perhaps there had even been an earlier miniature of Edward Maguire by Dodge, but it had possibly been lost or destroyed.

One British revival miniature that sold for a high price at an Internet auction was Edith, wife of Alfred Fletcher, daughter of Thomas Littledale and painted by Charles James Turrell (1845-1932) which sold for $1700.

This was quite a high price for an English revival period miniature.

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