July - American additions and Mr Darcy

American additions
Three (or four, depending upon how you view them!) American miniatures have been acquired for the collection this month.

The most important is a miniature of Mrs E M Eastman by John Wood Dodge. It is dated 1836. (The vertical parallel lines on the right are the graining of the ivory showing through.)

In the second quarter of the 19C, John Wood Dodge (1807-1893) was one of the best miniature painters working in New York City. In my mind his work rivals Nathaniel Rogers (1788-1844).

Dodge may well have continued to become the pre-eminent miniature painter in NYC after Roger's death, but it was apparently recommended by his doctor that Dodge move south for the sake of his health.

He settled in Tennessee and continued to paint miniatures there and in various other places for many years.

So far the identity of Mrs E M Morgan is not clear and so any thoughts on her identity would be gratefully received, especially from anyone with access to New York street directories of the 1830's.

A current, and speculative, thought is that she may have been a first wife of Edward Morgan Eastman who did marry at age 31 in 1842, however no earlier marriage record has been found from the 1830's.

More about the miniature can be seen at Dodge, John Wood - portrait of Mrs E M Eastman

The second item is a husband and wife, obverse and reverse, pair in a single oval case by an unknown artist, with the sitters also being unknown.

Although this pair are unknown, the miniature itself is still of interest.

Firstly, it is most probably American, as it has an American shaped hanger and a beaded bezel.

To my mind, this hanger shape is most often met with on American miniatures, rarely on British miniatures, and almost never on European miniatures.

Especially when taken with a beaded bezel, which is unusual on miniature portraits from other than America.

The case seems to be rare in another respect.

No doubt other examples do exist, but this is the first American case that I have come across with a double portrait which has a beaded bezel on both sides.

More about it can be seen at Unknown - portrait of husband and wife

The third item is by an unknown artist, but the sitter is believed to be Isaac A Buckingham who was a lawyer in Decatur, Illinois. The Buckingham family were very early settlers in Ohio and Enoch Buckingham is said to have been the first white child born there.

Enoch was also fortunate not to be killed in 1791, as one of his hunting companions was killed and scalped. Enoch fell down while fleeing and was only able to escape by lying still and playing dead, as his pursuers chased his friends along the track, catching and killing one of them.

Much more about the Buckingham family history, the above incident, and the miniature portrait can be seen at Unknown - portrait of Isaac A Buckingham

The miniature is interesting as it is accompanied by a Memorandum notebook containing a lot of history of the Buckingham family in America.

Additionally, the notebook contains a many notes about witnesses to a shooting in Illinois in the early 20C which involved a Court case titled "People v McCool".

Isaac Buckingham was one of the attorney's involved with the case.

I would be grateful to hear from anyone who knows more about this case.

Other items of interest - Mr Darcy
An interesting portrait miniature pointed out to me as being made available for sale recently, is one of Thomas Langlois Lefroy by George Engleheart one of the most prolific miniature painters in Britain.

There are apparently two versions of the miniature by Engleheart, with one still being owned by the Lefroy family.

The miniature was offered for sale by Judy & Brian Harden and apparently had an asking price of GBP50,000.

Lefroy is thought to be the inspiration for Mr Darcy who features in "Pride and Prejuduce" the famous 19C novel by Jane Austen.

There is more about the miniature and the works of Jane Austen at Addicted to Jane Austen: Lefroy Portrait Goes on Sale and at Becoming Jane fansite

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