Victorian Miniature With Needlework

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An elegant Victorian miniature depicting a lady with a fashionable hairstyle synonymous with the 1850s.

Hairstyles can tell us so much about the age of a portrait as noble Victorian ladies were always keen to keep up with the latest trends. For example, in the 1840s, it was de rigour for a lady’s hair to cover her ears completely. But by the 1850s, ears were again exposed. As you can see, the sitter in this particular portrait has her hair swept into a bun and side coils. Note that her left ear is left uncovered.

Aside from the beautiful portrait itself, this miniature has an interesting secret. On the back, someone has carefully embroidered a delicate design and placed it over the backing paper. It features two corner motifs of, what appear to be, berries and leaves.

Also on the back, in the top right, there’s an intriguing blind stamp featuring the St Edward’s Crown along with some initials (maybe E, something, W). We’ve tried to discover what this could be but haven’t managed to find another example. A historian suggested that it could be a stamp from a frame maker that has undertaken work for the Royal Family and he mentioned the name Edward Wyatt. Wyatt carried out several commissions for the Royal Household and considered himself to be ‘Carver & Gilder to his Majesty’. He died in 1840, so it’s unlikely to be him, but his son, also a frame maker, had the same name. This is only speculation on our part but it’s an interesting little mystery...

We purchased the miniature directly from the family but unfortunately they couldn't shed any light on its provenance.

The frame hangs from a gilded brass ring with an embossed thistle and rose motif.

Watercolour on card
Size including frame
5½” x 4¾” / 14cm x 12cm x 1cm
Year of creation
c. 1845 - c. 1860
Artwork in good condition with perhaps one tiny loss on the right-hand side. Frame with some scuffs and scratches.