Antique Portrait Miniature on Ivory of a Dog
One sometimes wishes that photography were unheard as perhaps portraiture, and in particular miniature portraits would still be an art form that is still with us. The Victorians with their love of their pets brought us portraits of these animals, and particularly dogs. While they are undeniably difficult to procure, their presence is assured as long as there are collectors.
Dating to circa 1890-1910, this is a touching tribute to someone’s beloved terrier, most likely a cairn terrier. Painted with ultimate skill and an eye for detail, the dog is portrayed as if he could jump off the ivory and onto your lap. His deep watery brown eyes are so alert, his expression the artist has captured in every nuance. His fur is a jumble of wire coated colors, and he even wears his brass collar. Rendered in soft umbers, siennas, grays, blues and whites with hints of black he is undeniably charming. The medium is watercolor on ivory and done in the round which suits well his body shape and stature. One difficulty of painting is to lend weight and heft to a figure and this is certainly mattered here. It also works spatially and it transcends the amateur artist.
The painting is signed in the lower right, “C.C.M.” and on the reverse is the original partial label with the first line reading an “A”, the second, the name “Miss C. Cai..tau… perhaps an M… and then “43 Blenheim Gardens, Cricklewood, N.W.” It appears that the artist is none other than the person name on the reverse, since it would be some coincidence that her name begins C. C. and then what appears to be an M. The work measures 3 3/8 inches across (8 cm)– the ivory area 2 15/16 inches (7.5 cm) and it is 5/16 inches thick (.7 cm). The top hook measures ½ inch. In excellent condition – the miniature itself has no flaws. The frame has some patina, has the two missing brass supports for the reverse and with the worn original velvet and torn label.
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