It is always incredibly fascinating to me to see the fine detail in these tiny paintings, and if you consider, while looking at our great enlargements, that the face of this particular gentleman is only about 3/4" from chin to top of his head, you'll be equally amazed at the character and personality the artist has managed to capture in a painting so small. I love portraits! I love the large ones, as well, but it seems to me the greater skill to create one in such a tiny tiny format. As I've explained before, portrait miniatures are usually of 2 varieties: 1. they are commissioned individual portraits of living people, or 2. they are paintings done 'apres' or 'after' the famous artists' work hanging in museums and made more for the Grand Tour tourist trade, hence the number of images we find of say, Marie-Antoinette, or Napoleon, for instance. This one is of the 1st variety, and would very likely be the only lasting representation of this person. The portrait miniaturist trade was lost to the photography developed in 1838, most notably by Daguerre (daguerreotypes) and it became an industry that was no longer necessary, sadly. These small paintings that remain, however, are magnificent as a collection, fascinating to view and sadly, are often both unsigned by artist and without ID of the sitter, so we know little of who this obviously gracious important gentleman was. And yet in this form, he lives on.
Very good to excellent condition, painted in gauche on thin natural wafer which is standard for the era and genre. There are no chips or cracks on the wafer, and no damage on the painting, save a tiny spot of lifted paint there near his high collar, a little moisture evidenced as a dot here or there - not much. You can see the lines of his brow, the grey of his hair, the heaviness under his eyes and a shadow of a greying beard, lightly, as well as the formal attire he wears for his portrait. All in stunning detail in this small aperture. In the original frame and under slightly convex original cover glass, he's superbly preserved - and we are left to make a story for him.
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