Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mr. Travers, I Presume?

Continuing my series on miniatures, today I am posting about a recent addition to my collection.  It is a miniature portrait of an Englishman, painted on ivory.  Based on the sitter's clothing and the frame, which I believe is original, I date it to the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

The subject of the portrait is identified on the reverse as a "Mr. Travers," but that is all I know of him.  It is unsigned.  I found it in an antiques shop owned by a family of pickers in the town near Darlington.  We've had good luck with these dealers before, as they were the source of the painting of Robert Burns that I posted about last year, among other things that we now own.

I was attracted to the miniature of Mr. Travers because I thought it was exceedingly well painted.  I also liked the fact that the sitter is posed in an attenuated, three-quarter pose, and he is staring at us with deep blue eyes and with what appears to be an intelligent and clever expression.  His features are refined.  I encourage you, Dear Reader, to double click on the image to get a better view of how well he is painted.  I particularly like the artist's handling of Mr. Travers' stylishly tousled hair and rakish sideburns, so favored in the Regency.  He is dressed fashionably in the severe style favored by Beau Brummel.  The painting is framed in a black papier-mâché frame similar to the one on the miniature portrait of the China Trade merchant that I posted about in February, when I inaugurated this series.

For now I am displaying my miniature portrait of Mr. Travers on a simple easel on my bedroom chest of drawers at Darlington House, where I am pleased to see him watching me as I go about my daily routines.

Next: Is She Really Who and What She Is Purported To Be?

Photograph by Boy Fenwick


  1. I especially like the hardware -the little acorn is just a nice detail. Intriguing title for your next post!

  2. I am always amazed by how much can be portrayed within the size restraints of miniature paintings. I notice the painter of Mr. Travers was even able to include a subtle 5 o'clock shadow!

  3. It is very charming! The artist really captured a bit of something there in his expression, didn't he?

  4. That is indeed a very handsome portrait, and so typical of that period!

  5. I like his expression and bearing of bien-être. Also a hint of inner amusement, as though the world is his oyster, but he still doesn't take it too seriously.

    On another note, you are going to have to start collecting chests of drawers, to accommodate all those little treasures you have to place on top of them.

  6. What a marvelous companion to your trade merchant!

  7. An earlier commentor nailed it with Alan Cumming.
    Ah, if only we could have a revival of Regency fashions for both men and women...they were so becomming.

  8. I ADORE him and want to invite him -- and you and Boy as well, of COURSE -- to my next cocktail party. He's got a bit of an Alan Cumming twinkle about him. I have no doubt he'd be very witty to sit next to and would keep me in stitches all night.

    Have you settled on a Christian name for him? I'm partial to St. John myself, for no other reason than because it's pronounced "sinjin." :)

    Lucky you to have him as a permanent guest in your lovely home. I'm sure he's equally happy to be living in your luxe surrounds!

  9. Wonderful find!!!

  10. Gail, in northern CaliforniaApril 20, 2011 at 1:18 AM

    You may have stated elsewhere, another time, but I was curious about the actual size of the miniature painting, and then the overall size with the matting.

  11. Architect: Yes, the frame is quite pleasing too. I like its severe simplicity, ornamented by the oak leaf and acorn decoration at the top.

    MDR: The artist really was very skillful, I think. Down to portraying Mr. Travers' five o'clock shadow, as you noticed.

    PT&E, BdV, and Lisa: All three of you are right on target! I hadn't realized the Alan Cumming similarity, until you commented on it!

    Lisa (again): I think St. John is perfect for his Christian name. And I love the (correct) pronunciation that you note in your comment. Years ago, when I was an exchange student in England, I was assigned to write a paper about "Sinjin Rivers" in a class that I was taking where we were reading Jane Eyre. Try as I might, I could find no such character in the book, and I arrived at the next class, empty-handed. The Master (as we called them) looked at me as if I were an idiot when I told him I couldn't find anyone named "Sinjin" in the book, and so he pointed it out to me that "Sinjin" was a central character in the novel. I was astonished to find that "Saint John" and "Sinjin" were one and the same!

    And yes, the three of us would adore to attend your next cocktail party!

    Gail: The frame measures five inches high and four and one quater inches wide. The portrait is approximately three inches high and two inches wide.

  12. Gail, in northern CaliforniaApril 20, 2011 at 6:21 PM

    "The portrait is approximately three inches high and two inches wide."...How in Gawd's name do they do it? First, of course the talent to paint but then the precision to add a little smirk, just a hint of a five o'clock shadow, oh and some wispy curls around that slightly receding hairline. Amazing. One false move and he had to start over. Precision, attention to detail, and an infinite amount of patience. Not only a work of art, a work of wonder.

  13. Brought my mother over today to see Reggie D's blog and she loved the urns outside Darlington Hall. Taking her on a tour of my friends from the blogosphere. Who would have thought...times are changing!


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