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Antique French Portrait Miniature, Young Pre-Teenage Boy, Gutta Percha Frame
Antique French Portrait Miniature, Young Pre-Teenage Boy, Gutta Percha Frame
Antique French Portrait Miniature, Young Pre-Teenage Boy, Gutta Percha Frame
Antique French Portrait Miniature, Young Pre-Teenage Boy, Gutta Percha Frame
Antique French Portrait Miniature, Young Pre-Teenage Boy, Gutta Percha Frame
Antique French Portrait Miniature, Young Pre-Teenage Boy, Gutta Percha Frame

Antique French Portrait Miniature, Young Pre-Teenage Boy, Gutta Percha Frame

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The frame is as valuable as the painting on this old one, and represents one of the few very early gutta percha frames made. Not to dismiss the hand painted portrait, mind you, as he is a sweet c.1839 or 1859 (signature) boy in a too-large suit, probably his father's jacket. His youth is obvious, probably about 10-13, and hair is neatly cut in a style popular in 1840-50, so we agree the painting is about that date, both for his image and for the presence of the original gutta percha frame he's housed in. I bought this image alongside one of this boy's Mom (or perhaps his older sister), and we'll offer it separately. Gutta percha is a then-modern marvel and is looked back upon as a forefather to modern cast-able plastics. It was, we know, a composite that incorporated very fine sawdust fibers, blood proteins, - and mystery to those who coveted these early fine-chiseled items that looked like exquisitely carved wood. We have many examples of early photography cases and some frames, dating to the early ambrotype and some to earlier daguerreotype images (c.1840s), and the material was also used for items from collar boxes to standish (desk inkwell/pen stands) and hand mirrors, vanity items. We have a rare barometer case in gutta percha, so some larger items were also made using mold method and this new 1840 invention. You can see it forms well into quite fine carved mold (look at the decorative corners) and holds the crisp edge well. So a wonderful example of both miniature painting and early technology in the invention of a moldable "plastic" substance: gutta percha.

Very good to excellent throughout. His image is a beautiful little painting in gouache or watercolor on thin panel and the frame is undamaged. You see some of the black gouache of his too-large suit jacket has flaked off over time, and a tiny sliver of panel is missing to the left, 9-o'clock position. Otherwise a lovely painting in miniature of a most engaging young man. A little patina age to the brass aperture mat, again typical of the age. Measurements are noted on our photos.