A Face to make your heart melt with a backing that intrigues - Antique Miniature Portrait on Card


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THE STORY - Well I think I can honestly say there wasn't a single thing about this darling little miniature that didn't melt my heart. That face with the gaze shyly looking down towards the floor, that wonderful gamine hair cut and the shoulders set in resignation dressed with that blue lace dress with white detail at the neckline and just the merest hint of a blush on the cheek; just wonderful! The miniature is painted with watercolour on card and is housed in a black ebonised framed with a sweet brass rose hanger. But as I have said in my title the front has stolen my heart but the backing of the miniature has perplexed me and has led to me sitting many an hour on my computer, researching. As you can see from the back there is a card with what I think read The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane but it has been cut away to fit the back of the portrait and then 'Mr Dwyer Night, Friday June 1 1804'. The date of 1804 I think is in keeping with the dress and hair of this dear child, certainly it was common for both boys and girls to wear dresses as toddlers with the boys not wearing breeches to even as late as eight and both boys and girls shared very similar hair styles as toddlers so it is difficult to be certain if our darling child is a girl or a boy. But what I did not realise when I acquired this portrait is that there is actually a signature on this label which looks to me like J. M. Dwyer, certainly the surname is Dwyer. Of course I have tried to research this Mr Dwyer but alas have come up with nothing, but I do wonder if Mr Dwyer may have been an itinerant artist travelling from fairs and shows advertising his skills. Indeed when looking into the very interesting history of The Theatre Royal Drury Lane I did come across a poster from 1839 advertising on the 4th February various acts and performances such as animal acts that were put on to bring in money to the theatre when a play was not being staged and also to open the theatre across the classes. And I have to say our dear little soul certainly has the look of someone who has been dragged along for their portrait. But as ever I cannot be certain of any of this, but that backing card is so very interesting and also I could find no evidence that Mr Dwyer was an actor or a performer so I do think it is most likely he was a portrait artist.

DATE - 1804

CONDITION - The portrait is in very good condition with the colours still strong. There does look to be a little dirt on the card which has I am certain darkened with age. There is wear to the brass rim and the hanger is still firm. There are some small dents to the frame and the top corner has been chipped which I have shown in the ninth photo and there is a much small chip on the bottom opposite corner.

DIMENSIONS (Approx) - Framed - Height 5" / 12.5cm, Width 4&1/4" / 11cm, Depth 1/8" / 0.5cm. Image Size - Height 2&3/4" / 7cm, Width 2&1/4" / 6cm

Of course I cannot say this is the finest most sophisticated painting of a Georgian child it really isn't but it truly and honestly is is completely and utterly charming to me. The way that darling child stands there with such shy resignation pulls heavily at my heart strings. And I have to say I can't help but imagine Mr Dwyer to be a bit like a magician dressed in a splendid black top hat and cape with a large moustache entertaining the crowd as they stand watching and waiting for their portrait.

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