Monday, February 21, 2011

A Delve into George Engleheart's Fee Book

George Engleheart  (1750-1829) was one of the most prolific
miniaturists of his day. He also kept a detailed fee book, which is
still in the possession of his family descendants.  Although there are
very useful extracts from this fee book to be found in George
Williamson's monograph on Engleheart, published in 1902, there is
nothing like referring to the real thing to glean those extra snippets
of information that make a miniature so much more interesting!  Only a
few artists from the Georgian/Regency period kept details of who they
painted and what fees they charged, and fewer of these precious
historic records survive.  For in those days, there was no fiscal duty
to keep such records, as there was no income tax or tax on savings and
a person's wealth was no business of anyone's, save for the curious
and the fortune-hunting.

'Miss Banks' by George Engleheart (in the collection)

1775 was Engleheart's first year 'in business'  and his fee book
records that a Miss Banks was painted on 15th February 1775.  Lady
Banks was painted the day before.  The sum of £6 6s (6 guineas) was
charged for the two portraits and Engleheart's bill was settled on
25th March 1775.

'Captain Flint' by George Engleheart (in the collection)

By 1802, Engleheart's charge for a miniature had risen from £3 3s to
£12 12s, which was still quite a modest sum, as fees for top miniature
painters go.  This is shown in the fee charged to 'Mr. Flint' for a
miniature painted 16th January 1802, and 'copied' on 23rd March 1802.
Flint is recorded as paying the artist for one miniature on 7th April
that year, with the copy being paid for by a Mrs. Seton three months
afterwards 'for Mr. Flint'. One wonders whether the Flints were having
a little financial difficulty.  The artist cannot have been very
pleased, having to wait four months for his money. Later, the same
sitter is referred to as Mr. Geo (George) Flint and also Capt. George

'Mrs. Flint' by George Engleheart (in the collection)

Reverse dated 1802

The artist does not record the date he painted Mrs. Flint, although he
signed it on the front and inscribed it on the back.  This shows that
the records Engleheart kept were not completely comprehensive.

Six years later, the couple were painted again; Mrs. Flint on 2nd
March 1808 and 'Mr. Geo Flint' on 21st March in the same year.
According to the fee book, the charge was still £12 12s each and this
time Flint settled the bill 'promptly' on 30th May 1808.

Although we have not counted the entries in the fee book ourselves,
this figure is generally accepted as being 4,853 over the space of
Engleheart's 39 year career.  This works out as an average of over 2
per week.  Given that it is not completely comprehensive, it is
possible that his true productivity is nearer 3 per week. A truly
astounding achievement.


  1. I am trying to locate the miniatures painted by Engleheart of the Sussex poet, William Hayley, and of his first wife, Eliza.

    Any knowledge much appreciated.

  2. Dear Paul, have you tried the search facility online for all the major London auction houses? If you go to each of the websites for Bonhams, Christies and Sothebys and call up past auctions, you will see that you can do an item search for several years past and put in the name of William Hayley (or portrait miniature of....)and all connected items should come up. Good luck! Best wishes. Roger and Carmela

  3. Hi:

    Thanks for the very interesting article. I have several Engleheart miniature portraits of my Bosanquet ancestors. Do you know where I might obtain a copy of Engleheart's fee book so that I might identify the individual sitters?

    Many thnaks and best regards.

    Jeremy Stone

  4. Dear Jeremy, The original fee book is in private hands. There are no copies. However if you would like to email us (portraitminiatureclub, in confidence, images of your portraits and any information you might have we are happy to liaise with the owner in an identification attempt for you.

    Kind Regards

  5. Hi:

    So sorry for my slow response. It was only today that I saw your reply posted here. Thank you very much for offering to approach the fee book owner for a look-up attempt. I've noted your email address and will follow up shortly.

    Thanks so much.

    Best regards,

    Jeremy Stone