Monday, October 24, 2016

Children Through The Ages

The Royal Miniature Society annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London has just finished.

We went at the start of the exhibition and set up a special display called 'Children through the Ages.' This showcased miniatures painted from 1640 to today of children.  Here are some photos of the children miniatures on display

Thursday, October 13, 2016

George and John Engleheart


Sorry we have not been posting anything for some time.

 We have been writing a book and have done a lot of research into George Engleheart and his Nephew John Cox Dillman Engleheart and have just published the book. It has been an exciting project for us and you should be able to get it on Amazon soon or email us for details. It is a hardback with 196 pages. The last book written on Engleheart was in 1902 by George Williamson which unfortunately was full of errors.


We have just curated an exhibition called 'Children through the Ages' which is now on at the Mall Galleries, London with the RMS annual show. Next month we are off to Celle, Germany to give a talk on John Engleheart. Busy times!

Friday, October 16, 2015


The exhibition was officially opened on Tuesday 13th October by author and public speaker, Dr. Gervase Phinn, who gave an amusing and interesting introduction and then graciously presented the Awards.

The standard of exhibits was as high as ever, with many new artists.  One of the notables among new artists exhibiting at the RMS was polish Ewa Buksa-Klinowska, whose astounding enamel miniatures swept up The Gold Bowl and also the Connoisseurs Award.  Ewa flew over for the event to receive her prizes in person and was overwhelmed by the occasion, saying that the praise had 'hit her in the heart'! 

Ewa accepting the gold bowl award

Gold Bowl winning entry

'Suzi' enamel on copper

The first day of the exhibition was bustling with activity, with many red 'sold' spots appearing in the cabinets containing the works of art.

An additional exhibition of some highlights from the Society's Diploma Collection displayed the wonderfully lovely miniature of HM The Queen in her younger days. An apt reminder of our longest-serving Monarch.

For the first time ever, all the exhibits can now be viewed on-line at

The exhibition is open daily, 10.00 - 5.00, closing on Sunday 25th October at 1.00 p.m.  

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

THE LAIDMAN SISTERS : Ida Frances Laidman (1878-1962) and Edith Annie Laidman (1880-1943)

Following additional research by living descendants of the Laidman family, it has now been established that the two miniature painters, Ida and Edith, had a sister, (Charlotte) Mary and two brothers, the Rev. William Ernest and the eldest, George Henry Laidman (born 1871 in India).  George became a Civil Engineer and married May Constance Hovenden in Salisbury, Rhodesia in 1919.  None of the sisters married and it is thought that the Rev. William also remained single.

Further information has now come to light regarding these two artists with the exciting discovery by collector, Warren Kundis, of a miniature of 'Mary' Laidman (1874-1954) by her sister Edith.

Miniature of 'Mary' Laidman (1874-1954)

Warren has kindly allowed us to use his images and we are grateful to him for this.

Although the 'signature' on this miniature is not the artist's, the backing sheet confirming the identity of the sitter and  the artist is genuine.

It is believed that Edith probably 'signed' the miniature with a monogram EAL and at a later date someone unknown altered it to read E. Laidman. 
 Edith's genuine signature is also shown below.

Not only do we now have an image of Mary, who as far as we know was not an artist herself, but this miniature also calls into question the identity of another miniature by Edith, previously unknown, which could possibly be a self portrait.  Certainly the striking combination of blue eyes, dark chestnut brown hair and fine features shared by the sitters in both these miniatures is very suggestive of a close family connection.  
The miniature, possibly of Edith, came from her sister, Ida's, Estate

Possible self-portrait? by Edith Annie Laidman

A photograph of an elderly Ida Laidman

A miniature of Mrs. Charlotte Laidman (nee Smith) the artists' mother by Ida Frances Laidman

Sunday, October 19, 2014


The RMS is holding its annual exhibition in The Mall Galleries, London SW1 (just off Trafalgar Square).   With about 600 exhibits including miniatures, sculptures and painted boxes, it shows off the incredible talents of living artists from all over the world, with most of the items on display for sale.  Prices range from the low hundreds to several thousand pounds.   

Not only is it a wonderful exhibition - and it is free entry - but there are practical demonstrations with opportunity to talk to artists about their work and see them painting. As usual, there is an exclusive range of well-priced greeting cards for sale.  A fantastic way to spend a few hours.

This year the new President of the Society, Rosalind Pierson, takes over from the much-loved and revered artist, Elizabeth Meek.  With impeccable timing, Rosalind managed to win the foremost award this year 'The Prince of Wales Award for Miniature Painting'.  

Our own award went to Suzanne Bradley, who makes a speciality of painting animals.  We could not resist 'Murphy' for its excellence.  

Murphy by Suzanne Bradley

Why not call in if you are in London?  The exhibition is open 10.00 - 5.00 daily until Sunday 26th October 2014 (closing 1.00 p.m. on final day).

Saturday, March 8, 2014

THE GENIUS OF ROBERT LEE KEELING (born Baltimore c. 1864)

Robert Lee Keeling was born in Baltimore, USA.  His father, Robert James Keeling, was a clergyman.  His mother was Elizabeth Bend Polk (1830-1874) and her son's miniature of her is now in the New York Historical Society Museum.  He had a sister, Rose, who married Stilson Hutchins, the founder of the Washington Post, and the couple became well known in the newspaper Society columns.   

By the time he was 16, Keeling's family had moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and the 1880 Census reveals that he was still at school at that time.  In June 1891 the New York Times reported that a sketch performed at the Lyceum Theatre called 'A Lesson in Acting' featured a young Robert Lee Keeling 'hitherto unheard of, was the real thing....'   Although Keeling started his career as a stage actor, by the time he was in his 30's he was a miniature painter of great repute.   It is not known where he trained as an artist.   

In  March 1893 the New York Times announced that Keeling was to marry Nannie Key Michell (nee Tyson), a widow some 20 years older than him, previously married to a wealthy auctioneer.

Keeling's reputation as a miniature painter soon took on near legendary status on both sides of the Atlantic.  American newspapers made much of his Royal commissions  to paint Queen Alexandra in 1901, and King Edward VII the following year.  He painted many a famous family in both Europe and America and gossip about his personal life featured in a clutch of newspapers in 1897, when his first wife, Nannie Key Keeling , from whom he was estranged, aged 'in her fifties', was found dead in her home.   Apparently the marriage was unhappy and the couple had soon separated, with Nannie living most of the time in New York and Keeling living in Washington.  Even the New York Times ran the story in its September 19th 1897 edition.

Keeling was a frequent visitor to England and exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1905. He mixed with the cream of society with families like the Vanderbilts and Stuyvesants and his comings and goings were dutifully recorded in the Social Pages - what parties he attended, where he was staying, who he was seeing.  

This miniature by him dated 1903 may possibly be his second wife, Caroline.  Originally in a gold frame and kept in its Tiffany leather travel case purchased from Bond Street, London, the suggestion is that it was painted in London.  The romantic and superb setting of the miniature attest to it being a gift of love.  

There were still newspaper reports of him living with Caroline Weldon in New York in 1910 but in January 1912, his personal life again became a 'cause celebre' when Caroline divorced him, citing that 'he had failed to provide her with the necessaries of life for the past year... and had deserted her'. Much was made of the fact that she was a great beauty.  Having been granted the divorce, tongues wagged again when she remarried with indecent haste.... to her lawyer.  

New York Times June 18th 1916 showing an image of a miniature by Keeling of Mrs. William A. Hamilton

The dodgy reputation did not appear to harm his career or his  ' invitability' and Keeling was still regularly appearing in the newspaper Social Columns, often accompanied by his married sister, Rose.  His frequent trips to Europe continued with a report in the New York Times October 7th 1922 announcing his recent return and giving his address as 135 East Thirty Fourth Street, New York, an address used by him for some years.  

Keeling miniatures are rare.  He signed his work 'Keeling' with a flashy flourish.  Please let us know if you have one of these miniatures as we would love to see more of his work.  

Saturday, March 1, 2014


Although born in Tasmania, Ada Whiting's work appears to turn up just as frequently in England and America as in Australasia.  During her career as a photographic colourist and later as a miniature painter, Ada painted many of the foremost families of her time, both Australian and visiting British and American dignitaries from her Collins Street, Melbourne studio.  

Two charming portraits of the same sitter, Margaret 'Peggy' Woolrabe (1876-1909) recently came up for auction around the same time; one in Australia and one in England. Peggy Woolrabe, nee Leask, was born in Scotland and married Frederick William Woolrabe in 1902, an Edinburgh-trained doctor ten years her senior.  Peggy died tragically young and the two miniatures, one a head and shoulders and the other a three quarter portrait, were probably both painted after her death.

Ada Whiting usually signed her work in monogram, but it is often overlooked.

Several members of the prominent Ross-Soden family were painted by Ada Whiting around 1906. The miniatures of two charming daughters of Isabel Ross-Soden went out of the family and appeared in an Australian auction at Charles Leski on 30th March 2005.  Lots 84 and 85 at estimates of Aus. $300-400 and Aus.$400-600 failed to find buyers, despite looking so charming. 

 Their mother's portrait, too, Lot 82 and described as 'oil on card' was passed in.  The descendants of this family would love to know what happened to these miniatures.