This relentlessly charming mid-19th-century miniature portrait depicts a gentleman wearing a black coat and necktie with a white shirt and waistcoat. Behind its darkened exterior, it hides a mystery requiring further investigation. On the reverse, a typed label describes the gentleman as Henry Jones (b. 1791), brother of Elizabeth Martin (b. 1781). It states that he died in Hamburg. But alas, with such a generic surname, it’s near-impossible to track down definitive information via ancestry records.
It’s further intriguing however, that he’s pointing at a Hamburg newspaper, the “Börsen-Halle”. Was he an editor or the subject of a story?
Despite our research, we’ve been unable to uncover any proven candidates but there is one possible lead that could be of interest. In 1843, a Jewish gentleman by the same name formed the B’nai B’rith organisation along with 11 other German-Jewish immigrants. It was created from a Cafe in New York to confront the ‘deplorable conditions of Jews in this, our newly adopted country’. We believe that this particular Henry Jones was born in Hamburg, so perhaps he made his way home in his later years.
The portrait is housed within a gilt frame.
Medium: Oil on copper Overall size: 4” x 5½” / 10cm x 13.5cm Year of creation: c. 1830 Condition: Artwork darkened partly due to the aging of the pigment on copper. Frame with some light wear.