May - New Research and Trivia

Previously, I have mentioned that when time permits, or am I prompted by a comment from a visitor, more research is undertaken about miniatures, some of which may have been in the collection for some time.

There are quite a number that have not been properly researched, or where a visitor comment leads to another line of enquiry. For this reason, I welcome information about miniatures in the collection.

Such research is absorbing and the most unexpected snippets of information can emerge. So much so, I have been tempted to prepare a list of "Trivia Questions" drawn from recent research into miniatures within this collection!!

For example;
Trivia 1; Which British Army General was on the German side in World War I?.

Trivia 2; His cousin was Commander-in-Chief of the British Army for 39 years and was married to an actress who performed at Drury Lane, the Lyceum, and Covent Garden Theatre in a 20 year career on the stage, including playing the parts of men. Who was this Commander-in-Chief?

Trivia 3; Who would have been King (or Queen) of England if Queen Victoria had died before having any children?

The answer to the first question emerged from the research into a miniature portrait of an unknown German officer, which I had included in the European Galleries of this collection.

It sat there for over a year, but recently a kind visitor identified the sitter as Crown Prince Ernst August of Hanover. He was a great grandson of King George III of England and born a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Later he also became Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale in the Peerage of Great Britain and Earl of Armagh in the Peerage of Ireland. Queen Victoria created him a Knight of the Garter on 1 August 1878.

From my reading of various Internet references it appears that if Queen Victoria had died before she had given birth to any children, Prince Ernst August would have become King of England!

Queen Victoria promoted him to Major General in 1886, to Lieutenant General in 1892, and to full General in the British Army in 1898.

He is shown here on the right (apologies for the scanner glare), while on the left is Prince George, Duke of Cambridge. For more about Prince Ernst August see View and for more about Prince George and his actress wife see View

As a result of the research, the miniature of Prince Ernst August has also been added to the British 20C Gallery.

Still on a military theme.

Trivia 4; Which famous World War I poem first appeared anonymously in the British satirical magazine "Punch" on 8 December 1915?

Trivia 5; Which Canadian artist was inspired by this poem to create a famous World War I Victory Bonds poster and received an award from the Canadian Government his work?

Trivia 6; Which famous French sculptor was also painted in miniature by this artist?

The answers to the first two questions were prompted by extra research, following an email from a kind visitor who emailed me saying: "I have a picture of my uncle Jack Brown fishing in the Laurentians. It was painted by Frank Nicolet in 1919. Frank was a friend of my uncle and they often went fishing together."

The artist in question was Frank Lucien Nicolet who painted this miniature of Rodin and also created this Victory Bonds poster, which was based on the poem "Flanders Fields" by John McRae. For much more about Nicolet, his posters, and the poem, see View

As he was more of an American, than European miniature painter, the miniature of Rodin by Nicolet has also been added to the American 20C Gallery.

Also from the early 20C.

Trivia 7; The daughter of which famous American architect painted a miniature self portrait?

Trivia 8; Who was the first woman to fly the English Channel?

The next trivia question is a belief, with the answer unconfirmed, so knowledgeable comment will be very gratefully received. The extra research arose out of a query from a visitor which related to the artist referred to in question 7.

Trivia 9; Did this miniature artist also write four children's books in the "Girl Aviator" series in 1911 and 1912?

Trivia 10; What is the apparent reason for the successful series coming to a sudden end in 1912?

The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham who designed many buildings including the Flatiron Building in New York.

His daughter was Margaret Burnham, who in 1910 painted this self portrait for her husband, George Kelly, as a gift for his 37th birthday.

Two examples of books in the Girl Aviator series are shown here. My personal belief is that this is the same Margaret Burnham, although I must stress this is doubted by her grandchildren.

The series of Girl Aviator books is believed to have come to a sudden halt in 1912 as several early lady aviators died in plane crashes in that year. One of these ladies killed in 1912 was Harriet Quimby, the first lady to fly the English Channel.

For more about Margaret Burnham Kelly, the Girl Aviators, and early aviators see View

As mentioned above, any evidence for, or against, linking the miniature painter and the author would be welcome.

Returning to the subject of French sculptors.

Trivia 11; Which famous French sculptor is noted for his sculptures of the Empress Josephine and other members of the French Royalty of the period?

Trivia 12; Why would a miniature of this sculptor, painted in France in 1801 also have the date "Year 9"?

The sculptor was Joseph Chinard who features in this enamel miniature by Jean Francois Soiron.

The reference to Year 9 refers to the French Revolutionary Calendar introduced in 1792 and which was intended to replace all references to the calender and years AD which we commonly use now. All citizens were required to use the new calendar.

For more about Joseph Chinard, his sculptures, and the calendar see View

However, the Revolutionary Calendar was dropped early in the 1800's. It is however proof that not all "good ideas at the time" are restricted to the 21C!!

Actually, it reminds me of another late 18C story of "a good idea at the time" that may or may not be apocryphal.

After the American Revolution there were various proposals aimed at severing all ties with England. One proposal was that English be dropped as the language for the United States and that instead Hebrew should be adopted as the national language for the country.

However, one sage noting the number of backwoods folk in the then remote parts of the Americas, demonstrated the folly of the suggestion, by dryly commenting that; "it would be far easier to get England to drop their use of English and for England to change to Hebrew!"

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