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Miniature
  • Miniature
    Weyler, Jean-Baptiste, born 1749 - died 1791
  • Enlarge image

Miniature

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1785-1790 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Weyler, Jean-Baptiste, born 1749 - died 1791 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamel on copper, frame of ormolu (gilded copper alloy)

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.247-2008

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In 1785, Weyler began creating a pantheon of enamel portraits copied from paintings of important French and foreign sitters. Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, had become popular in France through his diplomatic role in Paris during the American War of Independence.

In the 17th century, new techniques of painting enamels allowed delicate portraits resembling tiny oil paintings to be created. These enamel miniatures were first fashionable in continental Europe, but were particularly in vogue in Britain from the 1720s to 1760s. Enamel portraits performed a wide variety of functions. They were often given as diplomatic gifts or awarded to recognise official service. Some celebrated historical figures, while others commemorated a marriage, or departed loved one. Sitters often commissioned enamel copies alongside an original portrait in oils, in order to have a more intimate and portable version in a robust material. Enamels could also be set into jewellery or extravagant boxes so that they could be worn or carried. Larger enamels were often displayed in elaborate frames.

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

Oval miniature portrait of Benjamin Franklin depicted with flowing grey hair and a mauve jacket with a gold trim. The miniature is enamel on copper and the frame is of ormolu with a star border.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)

Date

1785-1790 (made)

Artist/maker

Weyler, Jean-Baptiste, born 1749 - died 1791 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Enamel on copper, frame of ormolu (gilded copper alloy)

Dimensions

Height: 8.39 cm, Width: 6.93 cm, Depth: 1.03 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Au Vieux Paris, Paris, 03/11/1994. D.S. Lavender, 1980.

Descriptive line

Enamel miniature on copper of Benjamin Franklin, in an ormolu frame, Paris, 1785-90, by Jean-Baptiste Weyler.

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. 60, pp. 111-112. ISBN 0856675334.
Schroder, Timothy, ed. The Gilbert Collection at the V&A. London (V&A Publishing) 2009, p. 92, pl. 72. ISBN9781851775934

Labels and date

6–11. Famous faces
Images of royalty (9, 10) were used as gifts to show favour or diplomatic good will. They were also acquired by those who admired, but had no personal connection, to the sitter. Miniatures of other famous faces were often painted years after their deaths. Their likenesses were copied from famous portraits (6, 7, 8 and 11).

8. Benjamin Franklin
1785–90

Paris, France; Jean-Baptiste Weyler (1747–91)
Enamel on copper in slightly later gilded copper-alloy frame
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.247-2008 [16/11/2016]
Benjamin Franklin
1785–90

In 1785, Weyler began creating a pantheon of enamel
portraits copied from paintings of important French and
foreign sitters. Franklin had become popular in France
through his diplomatic role in Paris during the American
War of Independence.

Paris, France; Jean-Baptiste Weyler (1747–91)
Enamel on copper in slightly later gilded copper-alloy frame
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.247-2008 [2009]

Materials

Enamel; Copper; Ormolu

Techniques

Enamelling

Categories

Enamels; Portraits

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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