Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Portrait Miniatures - British Soldiers, Part 1

Officer of The 55th Infantry
A couple of years ago I found a stunning portrait miniature at a local auction house. The sitter was a young man in a British uniform, brown hair, blue eyes... very dreamy. (Sorry Cori :) ) If I had the money I would have bid on him in a heart beat! I think the miniature sold for around $1,200. WAAAAAY out of my price range. And of course I was never able to get a picture of it. It's possible the auction house may still have an image available, but I doubt it. Lesson learned - Always bring a camera to auction previews! You never know what you will find.

So after viewing Lauren's post on American Duchess last week about making your own miniatures, I decided to do some searching online to see what I could find. What I discovered was a mini treasure trove of portrait miniatures depicting British soldiers. Huzzah! 

My first two finds are from the collection of Thomas Moore Sr. First up is a miniature on ivory of a Royal Dragoon dating to about 1810. The back of the miniature has small lock of hair, most likely belonging to the handsome young dragoon. You see this quite often as miniatures tended to be given as keepsakes to family members and loved ones. This miniature also has an enamel plate on the back with the sitter’s initials. 

Royal Dragoon, c. 1810
The second miniature of Moore's is of Admiral Lord Bentwick dating to about 1800.  This is also done on ivory and like the first, has a lock of hair on the back. Both hair decorations are beautifully done. 

Admiral Lord Bentwick, c. 1800
The Historical Portraits Picture Library yielded several nice finds. Here is a portrait of Captain Horace Beauchamp Seymour (1791-1851), painted by Louis Marie Autissier (772-1830). Autissier was one of the leading miniaturists in Europe and painted several other British officers including the Duke of Wellington. 

Captain Horace Beauchamp Seymour (1791-1851)

The portrait miniature below is of an officer of the Third Foot Guards, now the Scots Guards. The painting is signed 'Cleeve'

Officer of the Third Foot Guards.
Below is a rare portrait miniature by James Heath Millington (1799-1872). The man wearing the uniform of the 2nd (or Queens) Dragoon Guards is thought to be a member of the Lindsell family.

Member of the Lindsell family
From the Yankee Collector, this portrait miniature of an unknown British soldier. The back of the miniature has a lock of hair decorated with gold wire, seed pearls and initials set in a blue enamel oval. Based on the high collar of the uniform and the soldier's short hair and sideburns, I'd date this miniature somewhere between 1790 and 1810. 

Unknown British soldier

Back of miniature


  1. Was all/most of the hair decoration on the miniatures in the same general style of that last one? It's interesting, most of the miniatures I've seen that have hair on the backs have it woven instead.

  2. Hi Cassidy,
    Not all of the miniatures I found had images of the reverse side so I'm not really sure. The two images I found from the collection of Thomas Moore Sr both show hair decorations that are very elaborate. Woven hair decorations may be a bit later but I'm not sure. Still researching.


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