May - New and recent literature on miniatures

The Kern Collection
In recent years there have been a number of wonderful reference books published on the subject of miniature portraits.

The latest book, which I have just become aware of, is a new book by Bodo Hofstetter on the Dr. E. S. Kern collection of portrait miniatures donated in 1998 to the town of Winterthur (close to Zurich in Switzerland). The book has been published this month.

Shown here are pictures of the cover page, a random double page, and also an image of 94 years old Dr. E. S. Kern (as pictured in the book) holding one of his favourite miniatures.

The hardbound book is written in German, has 200 pages and weighs 1.227 kilograms (43 oz.). In the catalogue part there are 72 miniatures from England and the European Continent, from a Hilliard dated 1594 to a Cecile Villeneuve dated 1896.

They are fully described and illustrated in colour, some with close-ups of details.

A further 26 miniatures and 68 comparative illustrations (mainly miniatures) are spread through the introduction and the historical essays.

This is another valuable addition to literature on the subject of portrait miniatures.

I do not yet have a copy, but from the preview and even though the book is written in German, the illustrations and layout appear excellent. Thus it will be another very useful reference.

The collection was a very generous gift from Dr Kern to Winterthur.

The full title is Die Welt der Bildnisminiatur. Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Emil S. Kern, published by Benteli, Bern and Sulgen. ISBN number of the book is 978-3-7165-1485-6. It costs 58 Swiss Francs or 36 Euros, plus handling and postage.

I am advised the book can be ordered from the editor: or from the Winterthur Museum directly:

The Tedeschi Collection

I have also just obtained another wonderful reference book which was published 2005. I knew it existed, but did not have a copy.

It is hard bound with 128 pages and records, with excellent colour photographs, 130 miniatures collected by Alberto Bruni Tedeschi.

The collection was generously donated by the Tedeschi family to the Civic Museum of Ancient Art in Palazzo Madama in Turin, Italy where they are on display.

The miniatures depicted in the book are of outstanding quality and a viewer is immediately stunned by the skill of the artists. Many of the miniatures depicted are very large, one ivory miniature is 37cm high. Even so the detail is exquisite.

As an amateur collector, I can identify with the quotations in the book written by Gian Piero Bona about Bruno Tedeschi as a collector of miniatures.

"For Alberto Bruni Tedeschi the word "collection" was a magic word, like music, art, or exploration.....He had finally understood what being being a collector of objects meant: a passion which becomes an obsession."

And: "A valuable collection, such as this one, is also a sequence of wonders which occur in the life of the owner, as if he can never tire of enthusiastically evoking every single echo, which will multiply itself, always the same and always different."

In addition his wife, Marisa Bruni Tedeschi remembered: "I can even see him "play" on miniatures, as if they were the keys of his piano."

And: "When he touched these things, these precious pieces, little worlds sang in his hands like music."

I feel sure these sentiments would apply equally to Dr Kern above, and also to other recent generous collector benefactors such as Charles Fleischmann, the Manney Family, and the Tansey Family.

They have all enabled the general public in various countries to view and appreciate the special nature of these miniature treasures from times past.

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