Miniature thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On short term loan out for exhibition

Miniature

ca. 1740 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Continental artists first introduced enamel painting to England in the 17th century, but it wasn't until the early 18th century that it became fashionable. The young German Christian Friedrich Zincke dominated the market for small portraiture in London. Most artists working in enamel were taught by an experienced enameller, and Zincke trained a number of English artists. It is not known who trained the maker of this portrait, Gervase Spencer, though before becoming a miniaturist, Spencer was employed as a gentleman's servant. He became a successful miniature painter on the newly fashionable base of ivory and later also produced work in enamel.

This portrait, and another in the Gilbert Collection (LOAN:GILBERT.284-2008) are examples of refitting and adapting family heirlooms to safeguard them for future generations, while sometimes inadvertently adding erroneous information. Although the two miniatures are by different artists and of different dates, the frames and their inscriptions are almost identical, reading 'Thomas Tilson Father of Lady Deane', and 'Mother of Charlot Tilson Lady Deane'. The two portraits were sold at auction in 1981 by Lord Muskerry, their direct descendant. The costume of Mrs Tilson can be dated to about 1720, but that of Mr Tilson dates to 15 years later, when he would have been in his 40s or 50s. However, he looks too young to be of that age. Instead, the sitter could be Mrs Tilson's son-in-law, Sir Robert Deane (c.1707-70), whom her daughter married in 1738. It is possible that the two miniatures were framed as a matching set and inscribed with the confused identification, possibly by Sir Robert's son, Robert Tilson Deane (1745-1818), who became the first Baron Muskerry in 1780.

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Enamel on copper, in paste-set silver-rim frame with agate backs
Brief Description
Enamel miniature on copper possibly of Thomas Tilson, in a silver frame with an agate back, England, ca.1740, by Gervase Spencer.
Physical Description
Oval miniature portrait of a man, possibly Thomas Tilson father of Lady Deane, wearing a blue jacket. The miniature is enamel on copper and the frame is a silver rim, with agate backs, engraved with an inscription.
Dimensions
  • Height: 6.12cm
  • Width: 4.74cm
  • Depth: 1.14cm
Updated with measurements taken 29/07/08
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Signed 'GS' (In red on lower right)
  • Engraved 'Thomas Tilson Father of Lady Deane' (On frame)
Gallery Label
Possibly Thomas Tilson, Lady Deane’s father About 1740 Although the miniature frame names this figure, this attribution is doubtful. His costume has been dated between 1735 and 1745, while that of his ‘wife’ (10) is dated earlier. One suggestion is that this figure is not Lady Deane’s father, but her husband, Robert Deane. England; Gervase Spencer (about 1715–63) Enamel on copper in paste-set silver-rim frame with agate backs Signed ‘GS’ in red on lower right; engraved on frame ‘Thomas Tilson Father of Lady Deane’ Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.283-2008(2009)
Credit line
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Object history
Provenance: Lord Muskerry. Sale, Christie's London, lot 53, 24/11/1981. D.S. Lavender, London, 01/10/1982.
Summary
Continental artists first introduced enamel painting to England in the 17th century, but it wasn't until the early 18th century that it became fashionable. The young German Christian Friedrich Zincke dominated the market for small portraiture in London. Most artists working in enamel were taught by an experienced enameller, and Zincke trained a number of English artists. It is not known who trained the maker of this portrait, Gervase Spencer, though before becoming a miniaturist, Spencer was employed as a gentleman's servant. He became a successful miniature painter on the newly fashionable base of ivory and later also produced work in enamel.



This portrait, and another in the Gilbert Collection (LOAN:GILBERT.284-2008) are examples of refitting and adapting family heirlooms to safeguard them for future generations, while sometimes inadvertently adding erroneous information. Although the two miniatures are by different artists and of different dates, the frames and their inscriptions are almost identical, reading 'Thomas Tilson Father of Lady Deane', and 'Mother of Charlot Tilson Lady Deane'. The two portraits were sold at auction in 1981 by Lord Muskerry, their direct descendant. The costume of Mrs Tilson can be dated to about 1720, but that of Mr Tilson dates to 15 years later, when he would have been in his 40s or 50s. However, he looks too young to be of that age. Instead, the sitter could be Mrs Tilson's son-in-law, Sir Robert Deane (c.1707-70), whom her daughter married in 1738. It is possible that the two miniatures were framed as a matching set and inscribed with the confused identification, possibly by Sir Robert's son, Robert Tilson Deane (1745-1818), who became the first Baron Muskerry in 1780.



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.
Associated Object
Bibliographic References
  • 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. 53, pp. 103-104. ISBN 0856675334.
  • Minter, Alice et al. Masterpieces in Miniature: Treasures from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection. London: V&A Publishing, 2021, p.58, cat.34
Other Numbers
  • 1996.804.1 - The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House
  • MIN 39A - Arthur Gilbert Number
  • 1996.791.1 - The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House
  • MIN 26 - Arthur Gilbert Number
Collection
Accession Number
LOAN:GILBERT.283-2008

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record createdJune 26, 2008
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