Jan 252016


Here is an absolutely exquisite antique portrait miniature painting of a beautiful young woman. The technique and draughtsmanship in this piece is absolutely stunning, the subject well observed and gloriously rendered: from the diaphanous lace of the veil to the bright, bold curls of her blond hair. A multitude of almost microscopic brushstrokes create subtle tones and hues of incredible dynamism and vitality. Truly a museum-quality piece!

The subject is a blushing bride in a Regency style wedding dress of pale violet and ivory white, complete with elbow-length gloves and a lace veil with powder-blue rosettes. The classical background is a firmament of clouds opening after a rainstorm, the proverbial silver-lining promise of happily-ever-after.

This portrait miniature is signed “Helene Bogdan” and dated 1913 on the reverse. And yet, despite the date, everything about this piece harkens back to the early 19th century: the fashions (that dress is distinctly not Edwardian!); the quality of the painting is equal or better than most painted 200 years ago (or more); and even the frame belies its origin. This wooden frame is handmade of wood, and designed to be a traveling love-token, to be either hung from the ring or to stand upon a desk using the expertly built prop (that folds away flush within the frame when not deployed). And the fittings also are of a quality not typically seen in the early 20th century: a solid brass hinge and clips, and an exquisite ormolu banding around the portrait itself (this piece, I might add, is also designed like those seen in the 18th and early 19th century, with triangular tabs  to hold the artwork in place).

To be honest, my expertise on portrait miniatures is limited; however, I would not be surprised if both the date and the signature were added later, long after the original creation of this piece. (And, after all, nothing is known about this artist, and that seems odd, given that her talent is so admirable; wouldn’t such an accomplished mistress of the art-from be well known — if not famous — if she were painting just 100 years ago?) Such is the quality and other clues that mark this portrait miniature as a very important piece. And if, indeed painted in 1913, then this was certainly made to reflect and pay homage to the Regency era of portrait miniatures.

Whatever its history and origin, the quality of the artwork speaks for itself — a true masterpiece!


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