Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Famous Pierpont Morgan Miniature Collection

John Pierpont Morgan, Sr. (April 17, 1837 - March 31, 1913)

John Pierpont Morgan was a financier and banker of considerable wealth. By 1901 he was one of the wealthiest men in the world with a fortune estimated to be $ 1.4 billion in today's terms. He was a fearsome man as the photograph here appears to portray. It was suggested that the arm of the chair he is holding looked like a knife being pointed at the viewer! Morgan was a collector of books, clocks, gems, paintings and other art objects. His collection of portrait miniatures was probably the greatest private collection that has ever existed. His private library for his book collection and art works in 36th Street New York was made a public institution in 1925. However the miniature collection of 795 pieces was sold and dispersed in a three day sale in1935 at Christie's in London. The sale realised $349,285 ($5,460,000 in today's values) which was only two thirds of what was thought Morgan had paid in total for the collection. Some of the most important and famous pieces are now owned by major museums. Shown below are some images of hand coloured facsimilies from the catalogue of the Pierpont Morgan Collection, written by Dr. George Williamson and published in 1906. Only 20 copies of this special hand made catalogue were produced, showing this extraordinary collection.

Charles de Cosse by Jean Clouet, thought to be the very first 'stand alone' portrait miniature to exist when the artist cut it out of an illuminated manuscript he had painted

Mary, Duchess of Richmond and Lenox (1625-1685) by Jean Petitot

Mrs Pemberton by Hans Holbein which was purchased in 1904 for £2750 (£220,000 in today's values) One of the most famous miniatures in the world, it is now in the V & A Museum London

The 'Armada Jewel' with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by Nicholas Hilliard

Lucy, Countess of Bedford, attributed by Williamson in 1906 to John Bossam

Madame Du Barry by Richard Cosway

Mrs. Oakeley (1762-1839) by John Smart

Unknown Lady and family by Samuel Shelley

Artist's son by J H Fragonard

Madame Elizabeth by Jean Liotard

Soloman Ben Israel by P A Hall

Jean Pierre Pagin by Francois Dumont

General Kleber (1753-1800) by Jean Guerin

Children of Madame du Coincy by Jean-Baptiste Augustin

Self Portrait by Jean-Baptiste Augustin

Monday, August 2, 2010

A sweet shop for miniaturists

Walking through Great Russell Road in London recently towards the British Museum we came
across L. Cornelissen and Son established in 1855. Looking in the window was like stepping back a hundred years with a large array of pigments, gums and resins in small dishes. They have a huge range of rare and early colours and just about anything a miniature artist would require, except of course ivory.

Their web site is

Later Miniatures in the Collection (Not in Catalogue)

1893. Signed and dated. Robert Henderson . Master William George Barnes, aged 6

1903 Signed and dated. Mohala Theodora Webb. Jack Russell Terrier called 'Spot'

C.1905 Signed. Kate Earle. Little Girl Holding Flowers

1929 Signed and dated. Amy Gertrude Chamberlin. Lady reading a letter

1959 Signed and dated. Mohala Theodora Webb. Two Poodles

c.1905 Signed. E. Sartori. Unknown Lady

c.1900 Signed A.L. Unknown gentleman

1923 signed and dated. Louis Jules Minard. Girl with fair hair

c. 1950 Signed K.C. Little Girl in yellow ribbon

1947 Signed and dated A.S. A Priest

c.1930 Signed. Kate Winifred Walker. Mrs. 'Katrine' Murray Austin

1908 Signed and dated. Hannah Elizabeth Smith. Miss Edith Smith

c.1890 Signed. Hugh Nicholson. Mrs. C. A. Goodday

1965 Signed and dated. Violet Young. Pekinese called 'Suki' aged 9