Tuesday, February 18, 2014

EARLY 20TH CENTURY PORTRAIT MINIATURES Miss Ann ('Annie') Underwood (1876-1942)

There must be many miniatures from the early 20th Century hidden in drawers and boxes, and families have now forgotten which relatives they portray and haven't a clue who painted them... and so they end up in auctions labelled 'English' school!
Many of these are often initialled, and sometimes one can be lucky enough to find an exhibition label hidden behind the felt backing pad, which would reveal the name and address of the artist, and perhaps even the identity of the sitter.  It is always best to look!  Most of the frames from this era are the pinchbeck type with little pins holding everything together. 

Faced with this monogram signature,  how many would guess it is AU 1913 with the year divided around the initials?  This is the work of Ann Underwood. 

Although this lady is not a beauty, the miniature is exceptionally well painted, in the traditional way, on ivory.

Ann Underwood lived and worked in Brighton.  She studied initially in Brighton and then under the famously blunt Sir Hubert Herkomer in Bushey, Herts.  Her father was a publican but she preferred the description 'Hotel Proprietor'.  She exhibited at the Royal Academy and Royal Miniature Society from 1911 - c1932.  (details from Dictionary of Miniature Painters 1870-1970 ISBN 9782953662511).

A later miniature by this artist, again with the same monogram, shows an exquisite painting of a young girl, in one of the hardest poses to 'pull off', painted on ivorine c. 1932 

The label on the reverse reveals a price tag of £950!  A veritable fortune in those days!!

A few miniatures by this exceptional artist have appeared for sale in the last couple of years - perhaps you have one tucked away in YOUR attic?  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Hugh Nicholson was born in 1865 in Wandsworth, London.  His mother was Elizabeth Waterer and his father was David Nicholson, a locally well- known and initially very successful builder.  Little is known of Hugh's early life, other than his parents appeared to split up following the financial difficulties with his father's building firm, and then his father's early death.

Mrs. Charlotte Augusta Goodday (nee Field) (1817-1902)
Wife of Dr. Horatio Goodday, Surgeon and Author

Painted on Porcelain c.1890

By 1871 Hugh's mother and siblings had moved to 5 Middleton Terrace, Merton Road, Wandsworth, London.  

Twenty years later, Hugh was working as an artist/miniature painter and living at 8 Thurleigh Road, Balham.
It is a mystery why work by this brilliant artist does not come to light.  He appears to have always signed his work on the front and used his full name rather than a monogram.  He was a founding member of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters and exhibited at their exhibitions and elsewhere.

Mrs. W G Pirrie dated 1896
(the year Hugh emigrated to the USA)

Through his sister, Florence, he was uncle to 'Miss Marple' actress, Margaret Rutherford.

Like a number of accomplished Brit artists of the time, In 1896 he emigrated to America, where his work - miniatures in particular - would command a much higher price.  He settled in Baltimore, Maryland at one time living at No. 415 and later No. 417 West Fayette Street.

At some point after 1911, he returned to England, and was thought to have settled in Brighton, Sussex.  It seems likely that he died in Brighton in 1932 at 14a Stone Street, at the time a converted 'fly' stables and since then, a listed building.  It is thought that he was practicing as an artist and photographer. 


If you have a miniature by this artist, or members of your family lived nearby,  we would love to hear from you.