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Miniature

Miniature

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1705 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Boit, Charles, born 1662 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamel on copper, silver-gilt

  • Credit Line:

    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.302-2008

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This portrait depicts John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough in his armour and Order of the Garter badge. The miniature may have been commissioned to commemorate his victory in the important Battle of Blenheim during the War of the Spanish Succession.

Charles Boit may have based this miniature on a similar portrait painted by Michael Dahl. Boit was born in Sweden and lived in both Stockholm and Paris before arriving in England in 1687. He found success as a miniature painter after his arrival in 1687, and was appointed Court Enameller in 1696. In 1704 he was commissioned to make an ambitiously large enamel plaque commemorating the Battle of Blenheim, one that he would never complete despite being paid more than one advance on it. His debts in England eventually forced him to leave in 1714 for France, where he died in 1727.

Portrait miniatures in enamel became popular in the early seventeenth century and remained so well into the nineteenth century. In this technique, finely powdered glass coloured by metal oxides was applied to a metal surface and fired. Different colours required different firing temperatures, making it a long and technically demanding process. Such painstaking efforts were rewarded by the finished portrait’s glossy finish and relative durability.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world’s great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.

Physical description

Rectangular miniature portrait of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough standing three quarters length wearing armour and a blue sash with the Order of the Garter, an ermine and red cloak and holding his Field Marshall's baton. The miniature is enamel on copper and has a rectangular silver-gilt frame with a moulded surround.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1705 (made)

Artist/maker

Boit, Charles, born 1662 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Enamel on copper, silver-gilt

Dimensions

Height: 11.85 cm, Width: 8.25 cm, Depth: 1.75 cm

Object history note

Provenance: The Earls Spencer, Althorp. S.J. Phillips Ltd., London, 1979.

Descriptive line

Enamel miniature on copper of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, in a silver-gilt frame, ca.1705, by Charles Boit

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Coffin, Sarah and Bodo Hofstetter. Portrait Miniatures in Enamel. London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd. in association with the Gilbert Collection, 2000. 168 p., ill. Cat. no. 3, p. 51. ISBN 0856675334.
Schroder, Timothy, ed. The Gilbert Collection at the V&A. London (V&A Publishing) 2009, p. 88, pl. 68. ISBN9781851775934
Catalogue of the pictures at Althorp House. Privately Printed, 1831, p. 31, no. 455.

Labels and date

4. John Churchill, 1st Duke of
Marlborough
About 1705

England; Charles Boit (1662–1727)
Enamel on copper in gilded silver frame
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.302-2008 [16/11/2016]
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
About 1705

Charles Boit reintroduced the art of enamel painting to
England in the 1690s. He accepted advance payments
to create a large enamel plaque depicting the Duke of
Marlborough’s victory at the Battle of Blenheim (1704).
Unable to finish the work, he fled England because of
debt.

England; Charles Boit (1662–1727)
Enamel on copper in gilded silver frame
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.302-2008 [2009]

Materials

Enamel; Silver-gilt

Techniques

Painting (image-making); Gilding

Categories

Enamels; Portraits; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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