Watercolor on ivory, in a later gold, enamel, and diamond frame
Framed: 8.7 x 7.4 cm (3 7/16 x 2 15/16 in.); Unframed: 7.7 x 6.2 cm (3 1/16 x 2 7/16 in.)
The Edward B. Greene Collection 1941.556
Braided brown hair is glazed on the back of this miniature.
This work dates to around 1800, when George Engleheart was in the mature stage of his career. The sitter wears a blue coat with brass buttons over a yellow waistcoat and high white collar with ruffles. The initials W.A. on the back of the case probably identify the sitter, but Engleheart’s fee book records only his sitter’s surname in most instances, so it is impossible to determine if this portrait is among those numerous sitters with an A surname. The meticulous construction of the elaborate case and the nature of its components—gold, enamel, and diamonds—indicates that it is probably original.
The gold initials on the bordered, blue enamel back are encircled with braided brown hair. The twenty-four brilliant-cut diamonds are genuine, though paste diamonds were becoming more widely available during this period. When this work entered Cleveland’s collection in the 1940s, the cost of reproducing the frame was noted in curatorial records to be 20,000 to 25,000 francs, according to the dealer Leo Schidlof. It is the only miniature from the Greene collection whose setting was evaluated in such a way.
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