Tuesday, December 10, 2019

From My Collection, Part 2

I’ve been an inveterate haunter of antique stores and junk shops since my teens, because...well...old stuff! I love antique china and glassware and jewelry as well as fashion prints and dance cards, and make time at least once a month to check out my local consignment shops.

Last month, I hit the jackpot.

This delightful miniature of a young man (what do you think? I put him at about age 18 or 20) measures 2 ½ inches inches long by 2 inches wide. It looks to be painted on ivory; there’s a bit of damaged paint around the edges and on on his shirtfront. The craftsmanship is good but the style to me feels perhaps a little naive; it’s possible to see in he close-up at right where the lower contours of the face were corrected, evidently having initially been painted in too full. Notice the delicate points of his shirt just peeping above his stock; no dandy, this lad!

The case appears to be brass, well made with a fine rope detail around the face. What is interesting is the back of the case: there’s another smaller framed opening, in which there’s a scrap of black cloth; of course, I immediately started speculating on why it’s there (was it from the young man’s coat, maybe? Snipped off by a sweetheart, or saved by a doting mother or sister?)

Alas, there is no identification accompanying the piece. Based on the clothing (the high lapels and sloping shoulders of his coat, the black stock rather than a cravat) and hairstyle, my guess is that this miniature is from some time later in the 1820s to perhaps a year or two into the 1830s. Again, stories begin to well up as I look at it: was this perhaps a young man about to leave for university to study for the church (those modest shirt points again) painted for a doting parent? Was it (sorry to be a downer) painted after his untimely death, as his image has a certain air of fragility about it (plus that scrap of cloth...was that white stain left by tears?)

What do you think?


QNPoohBear said...

I think it's a mourning locket with a scrap of clothing rather than hair. I wonder who he was and what his story was? How sad that he has been forgotten. I really really hate seeing antique photos in shops. It makes me very sad for the people. I stick to books!

Marissa Doyle said...

I don't know--I like old photos. For me, it brings home the reality of those who came before us as human beings who lived and loved and felt, just like us.