Miniature portraits come out of the attic


On November 20, Christie’s in London will auction around 230 miniatures (with estimates ranging from $1,600 to $800,000 each) that TS Eliot’s widow, Valerie, hung in a London apartment with peppermint green walls. Depictions of George IV’s daughter, Charlotte, and her brother Frederick’s flirtatious girlfriend, the Countess of Tyrconnel, were held in uncanny proximity.

Given the complicated stories, Ms. Langston said, “it’s impossible not to be distracted when researching thumbnails.”

Next Friday, two dozen miniatures will be exhibited in “Beauty’s Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America,” at the New York Historical Society. They belonged to Peter Marié, a 19th-century Manhattan shipping magnate of Franco-Caribbean descent. Around 1890, he inexplicably began to commission and exhibit hundreds of images of the richest beauties of his time.

Mr. Marié never married and it is not known that he had any serious romantic relationships.

“He represented a modern version of the chivalrous courtier, whose love for women was abstract and never consummated,” writes curator Barbara Dayer Gallati in the exhibition catalog, to be published this fall by Giles.

On an oval in the ‘Gilded Age’ show, Mrs. Bradley Martin, an extravagant society hostess, is dressed as Mary, Queen of Scots. Mrs. Armstrong Chanler, a novelist turned addict, is depicted wearing a ruffled bohemian cape. Amy Bend, shown in a simple blue dress and no jewelry, has spent much of her life “wasted by vanity and fear of losing her beauty”, Ms Gallati writes.


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