Superb Miniature Portrait of General George Washington Oval Watercolor and Gouache After Artist Saint-Mmin
Click an Image to Enlarge It
c. 1830 Early 19th Century, Miniature Portrait of General George Washington, Watercolor and Gouache, after Saint-Mmin, Framed, Choice Near Mint.
This wonderful Miniature Portrait of General George Washington in an Oval Portrait was accomplished in Watercolor and Gouache on period paper. It displays his magnificent Profile Bust facing left, and measures 2-5/8” x 2-1/8”, protected under glass in a gilt-brass decorative frame with an internal textured mat and liner, to an overall size of 3-3/8” x 3-7/8”. The frame has an integral top brass loop attached for hanging on display. Washington is beautifully depicted wearing his blue Major General's military dress uniform with buff facings and rich gold epaulette on his shoulder. The background consists of a sky mottled in tones of blue. A small signature, “C. de Mmin Ft 1798” appears to the right of the portrait near the edge. Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Mmin (1770-1852) was a prolific portraitist and it is undisputed that he both engraved and painted portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and hundreds of other Americans during his time in America from 1793 to 1814. Whether Saint-Mmin painted this portrait, and if the signature is authentic or added in tribute, is not considered as providing added value in our current estimate. The value is wholly estimated by the exceptional execution and impressive quality intrinsic to this period Painting itself. This Painted portrait differs in some details from known Copperplate engraved portraits of Washington more commonly recognized as produced by Saint-Mmin. However, that is to be expected. The painted portraits and copperplate impressions were never meant to be exact copies of the original. The signature on this portrait likewise differs slightly from other known Saint-Mmin signatures, but even his own signatures tend to exhibit variances depending on the format in which each of his signatures appear. Thus, we are left with two possibilities:
1) This is an original portrait with a Saint-Mmin signature variant, or...
2) It is a contemporary painting after Memin’s original portrait, and here, being attributed in tribute to him by the (unknown) artist.
When this portrait first came onto the market in 2019, it was presented as being with an original Saint-Mmin signature, with an estimate of $15,000 to $25,000 and selling for $67,000. The original sale was voided, presumably because of controversy over the signature, yet that auction record stands as how well this impressive eye appeal Painting is accomplished.
Provenance: The family in which this miniature descended is related to General Jacob Morgan (1742-1802). General Morgan was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania. He moved to Philadelphia in the 1760s and became a successful merchant. In December 1776 he was appointed Colonel and Commander of the 1st Battalion of “Associators of the City of Philadelphia.” He fought in the Battles of Princeton and Monmouth. After the Revolutionary War, Morgan returned to private business and ran one of the new country's first sugar refineries. Charles Balthazar Julien Fvret de Saint-Mmin (1770-1852) was a portraitist and museum director. He fled France during the French Revolution, and worked as a portrait engraver in the United States in the early 19th century. He created portraits from life of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and many other prominent figures. He later served as museum director in Dijon.