June - Additions to the collection and research

Additions to the Collection
Three recent additions to the collection appear here. By a strange coincidence, two of them were painted in 1827.

The first is a "very large miniature" (if you will excuse the phrase, as it is 185mm x 135mm or 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches) and is signed and dated 1827 by Jean Alexandre Maricot (<1785->1840) a rare, but highly regarded French artist. For more detail, see Maricot, Jean-Alexandre - portrait of a young lady

The French Government lists some 2200 miniatures by French artists owned by various French Government collections, but there are no works by Maricot in the list.

A kind visitor who is an expert on European miniatures has commented: "Maricot is an extremely rare artist, and he is just as good as Mansion or Aubry, but lesser known due to his rarity. Glowing colours, a brush stroke like in oil painting, a fantastic artist."

The miniature is cracked, but the rarity and size does illustrate an instance where cracking, while not desirable, is acceptable. It is extremely rare for a miniature of this size to avoid being cracked.

After some 200 years it is almost inevitable that large portrait miniatures will be cracked and there are many large cracked miniatures in the Louvre Collection, the Tedeschi Collection, and also illustrated in the recent dictionary "Peintres en Miniature".

The hat the young lady is wearing is very finely painted and could have passed with favourable comment 100 years later, if it had been worn by a fashionable young lady of the 1920's!

The second miniature portrait is not signed or dated as such, but some detective work has attributed the miniature to Charles Fraser (1782-1860) a highly regarded miniaturist from Charleston SC.

The sitter is Mary Brandord Shubrick (1759-1832) and the 1827 date of the painting is confirmed as the portrait is recorded in the work book of Charles Fraser for 1827.

Research into Mary Branford Shubrick has been fascinating. As it went on, I could feel a "Special Report" coming on!! So much so, that I have kindly dubbed her "The Military Matriarch" as her husband was an army colonel, and her six sons all served in the military. Four US Navy vessels have been named for the family.

Thus, the miniature and much information about the Shubrick family are included as the June Special Report at Fraser, Charles - Mary Branford Shubrick

Visitors only interested in miniature portraits, may wish to skip most of the report. However, even those visitors may still find it a useful read, if they ever suffer from insomnia!

Interesting snippets include that one USS Shubrick threatened to bombard the coast of Washington State with its cannon! The same vessel was instrumental in the purchase of Alaska from Russia. A bizarre incident on its maiden voyage occurred when a sailor died at sea and was consigned to the depths in a coffin. However, after the Shubrick reached port, the coffin came drifting into the harbour and bumped up against the Shubrick!

The third acquisition is an American revival miniature by another Charleston, SC born miniature painter named Louise Hammond Willis Snead (25 Dec 1866-1958).

According to her 1924 passport application she was born in Charleston, SC and worked in Noroton, CT and New York City.

Most American miniature painters came from the North-East and hence to have two additions by Charleston born artists is unusual.

Louise Snead was also a journalist and illustrator, who created at least one cover for McCalls Magazine.

Some examples of her work can be seen at Snead, Lousie Willis - portrait of Emma C Rose

The miniature portrait is of Emma C Rose, but so far the sitter has not been more closely identified.

Research into items in the collection is ongoing as times permits, and as prompted by visitor emails.

The first one was prompted by an email from a helpful expert, who sent it as an example of a miniature by William Foster Jones (4 May 1817-9 Dec 1873) who was born and worked in Philadelphia.

I had to laugh at myself, as the exact miniature was sitting in the American 2 Gallery as an unsigned miniature and thus unattributed. For some unknown reason, I had never checked for a signature, but sure enough it was there.

Thus, that prompted some research into Jones as the artist and that research has now been included in the description.

See Jones, William Foster - portrait of lady with the initials "M B O"

A second email from a great-niece of Gertrude Pew, enquired about this miniature by Gertrude L Pew (Mar 1876-28 Jun 1949) who was born in Niles, Trumbull, Ohio and worked and died in NYC.

It was a miniature which I had never got around to researching. The great-niece and I have jointly been researching Gertrude Pew and thus the description has been greatly expanded.

Gertrude L Pew trained in America and Paris. She painted many famous Americans, including President Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Mellon, J Pierpont Morgan, and Mrs John D Rockefeller.

She also designed post cards, and painted in oils. For more about her and examples of her work, see Pew, Gertrude - portrait of 20C lady

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