Sunday, December 30, 2012


If you happen to come across a miniature by Miss Lewis, we suggest you 'snap it up'.  Not only will it be very finely painted, but Miss Lewis herself had a spectacular career - as an actress!  Born as Mabel Gwynedd Lewis in 1872, she was born into a wealthy and talented family.  Her father, Arthur James Lewis, was a painter, illustrator and musician.  Her mother was an actress, Kate Terry, a niece of the famous Ellen Terry and her siblings, all actors.  Mabel's sister, Kate Terry Lewis (1868-1958) was the mother of John Gielgud.  

Portrait of a striking looking Gentleman by Miss Mabel Terry Lewis (1872-1957).  Signed and dated 1896

Mabel Terry Lewis appeared in many stage plays. Her London stage debut was in 'A Pair of Spectacles' at the Garrick Theatre in 1889, in which she played Lucy Lorimer.  For twenty or so years she had a film career, appearing in Love Maggy in 1921, The Scarlet Pimpernel in 1934, Jamaica Inn in 1939 and They Came to a City in 1945.  She married Captain Ralph Batley.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


The Annual Exhibition of The Royal Miniature Society (RMS) opened today at The Mall Gallery with a vast array of miniature paintings, larger works, boxes and sculptures and greeting cards, many for sale at bargain prices!  Visitors came to snap up some early Christmas presents and buy some of the exclusive cards.  And to add to the interest and excitement a special exhibition of miniatures painted during The War Years is also on show for the duration of the main Exhibition, with a catalogue available at £3.50.

  Amongst the represented artists winning Awards was top portrait artist and President of the Society, Elizabeth Meek, who was the first to receive The Prince of Wales Award for Outstanding Miniature Painting.

The exhibition at the Mall Galleries, The Mall, near Trafalgar Square, is open every day from 10.00a.m.5.00p.m. until 28th October 2012, closing at 1.00p.m. on the final day.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Accessories for the miniature collector

For frequent visitors to this site, you will know that we don't advertise anything for sale, other than books about miniatures and conservation and other services to collectors.  One particular problem for collectors is trying to obtain bespoke frames, which can be tricky and most of us resort to buying damaged/poor quality/ugly sitter miniatures to strip them of their fine contemporary frames from time to time.

For later miniatures, however, there are two firms that do an admirable job of supplying brass, gold plated and wooden frames and a few accessories.  The British firm's website is and the US firm's website is  Both of these are worth checking out because of their different sizes and between the two, most sizes can be accommodated.  The former also has a bespoke service for brass frames.

For the 'missing pin' problem, we buy Pony Sequin and Bead Pins no.25202.  Not only are they satisfyingly cheap, but there are enough pins in the pack to last most collectors a lifetime!  Another issue is often the missing hanging ring, where we suspect that such is the rarity value of these rings, that they are deliberately removed!  Now that we are prepared to tell you our secret, the rarity value will be no more!  Ebay sellers galore sell these rings in all sizes and finishes - brass, gold plated, silver coloured - a search engine will reveal plenty of choice for 'Gold colour split rings'.  Mostly sold in packs of 100 or more, they are ridiculously inexpensive. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The 'eyes' have it (or not)

Have you ever hoped to confirm the identity of a sitter only to hear
an expert say, 'it is not this person because the eye colour is wrong'?

Did Georgian and Regency miniature painters really alter eye colour on a whim?  Although inconclusive in 'proving' the practice was widespread, these two images of obviously the same sitter, both signed by the same artist, do show that the eye colour 'myth' is no chestnut!

Both miniatures are signed and dated 1815

This example suggests that the above statement on identification 
may not be taken as absolute fact and perhaps facial features
  are more relevant in identification than colour of the eyes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Collection with a Difference

We have featured some of Stefanie's Collection before and she has been kind enough to allow us to share images of some of her new arrivals.  Stefanie is a fearless and passionate collector and she is not fazed by cracks or faults, unsigned miniatures, unknown artists or strange looking sitters, unlike some of the more 'purist' among us!

A Swiss Lady

The result is a quirky, eclectic and fascinating collection, which is just as the collector intended.  

Stefanie's meticulous research uncovered the story behind this miniature, and led her to a fascinating conclusion.  The sitter is Marie Cecile Henriette Machelard, who was born in 1759 in Paris.  She was the 'milk' sister of Princess Clotilde, the sister in law of Marie Antoinette.  Marie Machelard's mother nursed her daughter and Princess Clotilde together and received a pension for doing so.

Stefanie believes that the hair around the portrait is that of Princess Clotilde!

A Spanish family

Admiral Sir Robert Kingsmill (1730-1805) by Richard Crosse

Dame Jane Wilson (1749-1818), widow of Gen. Sir Thomas Wilson, 6th Baronet

Miss A. B. Patterson by Mrs. Margaret Butterworth
(our Dictionary of Miniature Painters 1870-1970 lists this artist as working from 8 Wilton Place, Belgrave Square, London and exhibiting at the Royal Academy and Royal Miniature Society between 1894-1915). Stafanie was fascinated by the windmills in the background!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The progression of William Naish's talent (1767-1800)

William Naish, one of three artist brothers, was lauded by his contemporaries after his early death for his talent. On the basis of much of this artist's work, this admiration may seem overly generous.  However, after a close study of his different styles, there appears to be more to this artist 'than meets the eye'!

A signed miniature by William Naish dated 1787. Painted when he was only 19 or 20 and a student at the Royal Academy, if it weren't for the distinctive signature, one could hardly equate the glumly staring portrait with the quality of the artist's work in the last few years of his life

Copyright V & A Museum London

Close up of signed portrait

Copyright V & A Museum London

A signed example a decade later showing the advance in his talent

A 'typical' male portrait from Naish's last decade
Copyright V & A Museum London

Close up showing his technique and also the 'giveaway' hallmarks of his work, discussed in detail in a previous article. Namely, the small 'dug out' circle in the corner of the eye, the chiselled delineation around the nostrils, the block of light from nose to upper lip and the circle of light on the chin

Copyright V & A Museum London

William Naish's almost unrecognisable best later work.  Instead of the enlarged eyes of the previous portrait, he uses a rather narrow eyed look and intense deep colours for the portrait and background.  When rare examples of Naish's best work appear at auction, they are usually heavily contested. Whether he deliberately  'pulled out the stops' to paint these superb miniatures when asked or paid to do so, or whether they were just a product of a 'good day',  is not known.  However, clearly something miraculous happened between his lumbering first attempts to paint a miniature and his last known works which stand up to comparison with other great artists of that era.  We find it sad that he died at such a young age, just when his talents were in full flower.  It could be conjectured that he was a depressive personality, judging from the haunted look of his self portrait, which was sold at Christies South Kensington about fifteen years ago. Unfortunately, we do not have a fine enough image to show it here.

A Curiosity

'Signed' miniature on ivory in Belle Epoque frame - a well made fake

Usually housed in 'piano key' frames, these 'decorative' miniatures are very common but are still collectible.

The 'signature' gives an air of authenticity

The overpainting over the printed base can easily be seen 

The back of the miniature showing the ivory striations 

The back of the frame - a bevelled mirror.
Such a lot of work went into this piece that it is a pity that it does not contain a properly painted miniature!
Offers anyone?!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Like many miniature painters of that time, the artist usually used genderless initials to sign her work, F. E. Howell.  She did not use her first Christian name but referred to herself as 'Ethel' Howell rather than Florence Ethel Howell.
Miniature of her sister, Mrs. Margery Henderson, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1914

From this image of her sister, we can get an idea of what the artist might have looked like.  Pale complexion, light brown hair and strong, handsome features.  The artist often favoured the profile or almost profile pose and succeeds in making it an arresting and interesting portrait

The artist's typical signature

Exhibition Label

Using our Dictionary of Miniature Painters 1870-1970, we can see that this artist exhibited between 1913-1935 at the Royal Academy and the Royal Miniature Society.  Her father was a Cane Stick Manufacturer and the family lived at 20 Highbury Quadrant, Islington.  She lived with her family until she married  Leonard Montague Nash, a Greengrocer, in 1919.  This information shows that the label above, detailing her married name as 'Nash' was added later.

A haunting miniature by the same artist of 'Marguerite', signed and dated 1916, possibly also a member of her family, judging by the strong features and distinctive colouring

Close up showing the difficult 'almost' profile pose.  Like the other miniature, this had to undergo conservation work to separate the ivory from the backing sheet to which it was stuck, causing the ivory to 'buckle'.  Unless released, the ivory would eventually crack. Standards of Conservation work were in their infancy 100 years (or even 50 years ago) and it was mistakenly thought that by sticking the ivory portrait to a cardboard backing sheet, it would be 'supported' and prevent curvature and cracking.  Sadly, this very practice has been responsible for many bowed and cracked miniatures.

An unattached cardboard backing sheet showing a pencil sketch of an elderly man, possibly a preparatory sketch for another miniature.

A later label showing the artist's married name

The original Exhibition Label showing the price of 8 guineas asked for this miniature.  This price was a little below the 'top' price of 10 guineas that was usually asked for a head and shoulders portrait.  Using the average wage today and then to make a rough financial comparison, this price would be the equivalent of about £1500 today.  

The Painted Face during the Age of Photography Exhibition March 2012

The Exhibition was held at the Philip Mould Gallery in Dover Street, London and curated by their in house portrait miniature specialist, Emma Rutherford

The miniatures were carefully unpacked and spread out on a large table

The information board with a few words from Roger and Carmela

They were exhibited in glass top vitrines with 'cold' lighting, on the walls and on a glass topped stand

Three of the 'stars' of the Show

Carmela with Lawrence, a member of the Gallery Staff 

The Exhibition is about to open

Roger and Carmela at the Opening holding their Dictionary, which was on sale at the Gallery

Curator Emma Rutherford with Roger and Carmela

Saturday, February 11, 2012


We shall be in London during the week of the exhibition of later miniatures and are delighted to invite any collectors or enthusiasts to meet on Friday 23rd March 4.00 p.m.-6.00p.m. in a central location. Light refreshments will be provided.  Please bring miniatures with you if you wish! Why not take in the exhibition first and then join us for what should prove to be an interesting and fun occasion? Please contact us if you would like to come. Roger and Carmela

Miniature Exhibition in London

An exhibition of later miniatures is being held in London from 21st March to 27th March to coincide with the publication of  the 'Dictionary of Miniature Painters 1870-1970'. Here is the link giving all the details.

The exhibition is being curated by Emma Rutherford, the Art Historian and Portrait Miniature Specialist.

We shall be in London for the Exhibition
 and would love to meet any miniature lovers
who are able to come.

Roger and Carmela


An Italian scholar is looking for images of miniatures of Charles III
of Spain (1716-1788).  If anyone has a miniature of this monarch or
any other image of him, we shall be grateful if you will kindly get in
touch with us at

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dictionary of Miniature Painters 1870-1970

The book is 295 pages A4 and lists over 2300 miniature painters working between 1870 and 1970 with lots of additional and previously unpublished information about many of them.  After the dictionary section there are over a hundred pages in full colour showing the work of some of the artists painting during this time and a section on Photominiatures and Monograms and Signatures.

This book is available from 2nd March price £65 and can be obtained directly by emailing us or through Amazon or in USA from 


There will be an exhibition in London of later miniatures from 21st. to 27th. March.  The book will also be available at the Gallery during the exhibition.