The Wilson Family - Three Miniatures of Father, Mother and Son Framed as One


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THE STORY - I couldn't help myself the moment I came across this wonderful collection of miniature portraits, instantly forming a story about the relationship between each individual portrayed. The piece comprises of three individual portrait miniatures executed on card in charcoal with a wash and they are framed as one. They are identified on the reverse as three members from The Wilson Family, Father Wm (William) Wilson married 1770, Ellen (I am unable to read her maiden name) Wife of and Thomas (unable to read his middle name) Son of. Sadly after many hours I have been unable to find the family on the internet. But I think from the one date we have, that of the marriage of William and Ellen it is likely that this piece would date to the Georgian era circa 1800. Indeed I believe that this piece was put together as a Memorial Piece as I think it is clear that the Father's portrait is not drawn from life, and from what looks like the wig he is wearing I think his portrait is a copy from an earlier one. And I imagine that uniform, painted I think with a wash, was very important to both him and his wife. The portrait of his wife Ellen is I think very finely executed in charcoal only, there is a vulnerability in her face and it is interesting that she is not wearing mourning dress so possibly her husband passed away quite a few years before this was executed. And then finally we have the son and what a portrait this is, his face is executed in charcoal and that double breasted jacket and high frilly colour painted with a wash. And what a figure that son portrays, certainly there is absolutely no vulnerability in his face, instead a confidence, maybe one could almost say a touch of arrogance and there really is something of the Dandy about him with those wonderful curls of his new fashionable short hair cut. I know one should not 'judge a book but its cover' but my goodness that son looks like he was quite a handful for his parents no wonder the poor mother looks so apprehensive. The portraits sit in an ebonised wooden frame with a grey mount which I think maybe a later frame, although it certainly has some age to it and carries a framers stock for Cambridge & Co, Dublin.

AGE - Circa 1800

CONDITION - All three miniature portraits are in very good condition with no foxing to the paper that I can see and the mount too is in good condition. The glass of the frame does have some dirt under it with a brown mark under the glass over the portrait of the son which is best seen in the fifth the photo. The front of the frame does show some signs of wear and on the edge next to the father it has been knocked exposing the lighter wood underneath. The reverse of the frame is not in the best condition with the backing paper having deteriorated. I have decided to leave it in this condition as the portraits and mount are still secure and it means that its new owner can either decide to leave it as it is or choose to put on a new back or indeed possibly a perspex back so the little verso stickers still show. I would recommend either testing or changing the wire hanger before hanging.

DIMENSIONS (Approx) - Framed - Width 12&1/2" / 32cm, Height 7&1/4" / 18.5cm, Depth 3/4" / 2cm. Father & Son Portrait - Height 2&3/4" / 7cm, Width 2" / 5cm, Mother's Portrait - Height 2&1/2" / 6.6cm, Width 2" / 5cm

I cannot help think that this trio of little portraits portray wonderfully a possible narrative of the Wilson Family, with the son Thomas demanding so much attention, a Father sadly no longer around to control him and a mother who loves her son but is apprehensive about his future, he does look like a gentleman who could run up quite a few gambling debts as well as a list of broken hearts. But of course I could be completely wrong, Thomas may of been an Angel.

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