April - Une Collection Francaise and the American market

Une Collection Francaise - A French Collection
A French collector with a specialist 18C and early 19C collection of miniature portraits has kindly offered to display part of his collection for miniature "addicts" to view, and more items from his collection may be added at a later date.

Normally, I add other collector's miniatures into the Guest Gallery.

However, in this instance and given the number of miniatures involved, as well as the likelihood of more to be added to the display, I have opened a new Gallery titled; "Une Collection Francaise - A French Collection" at Une Collection Francaise

The link is recommended to anyone interested in French miniatures. It should be helpful to experienced collectors and also beginning collectors, who can see a range of genuine miniatures and so learn how to pick them out from more modern decorative miniatures.

I hope that other collectors of miniatures will be encouraged to submit special items from their own collections, so that we can continue to build an important reference resource on the Internet.

The American market place
At recent Internet and live auctions in America, there have been a number of interesting sales. Several of these were sold by Freemans Auctions of Philadelphia.

One of the rarest, was a miniature landscape on ivory of City Hall, NY and signed F Fritsch, which sold for a hammer price of $7500.

A miniature of Seth Johnson of Middletown, Connecticut and of New York by Walter Robertson had a hammer price of $3750, well above the estimate of $1000-$2000.

A more uncommon form of the profile miniatures painted by James H Gillespie, which was attributed by the auction house concerned and was apparently signed JG on the shoulder, sold for $400 plus commission. One in Gillespie's more usual style sold at the same sale for $550.

A miniature of a young lady by Anson Dickinson sold at a hammer price of $600. This was a very low price for an Anson Dickinson, but I have a feeling the very same miniature sold on eBay a few months ago for double this price, even though it was cracked. Thus, the latest low price, may now reflect a more informed market and a repaired crack.

An unsigned miniature on paper inscribed as being of Stephen Decatur by William Birch, reached a hammer price of $4750, much less than the estimate of $8000-$12000.

A pair of miniatures of William Bethel and Mary Ash Bethell, who were married in Philadelphia in 1797, sold for a hammer price of $950, having been passed in at a Freemans auction in 2007.

An unattributed miniature of Lieut Stephen Decatur McKnight sold for $1500 plus commission.

An interesting item at the same auction, although not a miniature, was a large oil signed and dated by John Henry Brown 1843.

Brown is more usually known for his meticulously painted miniatures. His oil of Ernestine Brown sold for a hammer price of only $500.

A fine, but unsigned English miniature, inscribed on the reverse as being of James Boswell, the biographer of Dr Samuel Johnson, sold for $4400. If confirmed as being of Boswell, this seems to be cheap for such an important sitter.

A Justus Dalee (American, 1793-1878), pencil and watercolor profile portrait of a young woman, 3" x 2 1/2" was sold by Pook and Pook for a hammer price of $5000, double the pre-sale estimate of $2000-$3000.

Several works by Dalee were sold recently at another live auction, I think it was possibly by Freemans, but achieved much lower prices.

Pook and Pook also auctioned two other portraits by miniaturists. One being by Charles Balthazar Julien Saint Memin (American/French, 1770-1852), mixed media profile portrait of a gentleman, 24" x 18" which sold for $5500 plus commission.

The other being by William M.S. Doyle (American, 1769-1828), an oval miniature portrait on ivory of a gentleman, signed lower right "Doyle 1803", which reached a hammer price of $1400.

However, probably the most surprised vendor recently, was the dealer who offered this miniature portrait of an unknown boy on eBay, without a reserve and a starting price of only $99.

The seller noted that it was signed "I P 1802" but obviously did not realise this was the signature of James Peale. Bidding slowly crept up to $1625, where it stuck for several days, until there were only ten minutes left. Then all the experts started to leap in and it quickly ended at $9700.

Others may have differing opinions, but I think if this miniature had been offered at Skinners or Freemans, with a full James Peale attribution, I would not have been surprised for it to exceed $20,000. Thus the buyer still got a bargain and may make a quick profit on a resale.

In eight years of buying miniatures on the Internet, this is only the second signed James Peale miniature I have seen offered at an Internet only auction. The other one being signed "I P 180?" and a fortunate, and much less costly, acquisition for this collection about four years ago.

It was less attractive, being of Dr Robert Hare the chemist as shown here, and can be seen better at View

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