20 Reasons To Love Americana, #1
Today, Antiques And The Arts Weekly, which has covered the antiques trade in print for many years, has entered the blogosphere. In 20 installments this column will take an up-close look at fine examples of Americana that will be offered during Americana Week in January.
This circa 1776 miniature of a Revolutionary War soldier, an officer in Crane’s Artillery, one of the two major Boston regiments, was painted by portrait miniaturist Joseph Dunkerley, a deserter from the British Army, who served as a lieutenant in the Boston’s other regiment, Craft’s Artillery.
Antiques dealer Elle Shushan, Philadelphia, Penn., will feature this work and other miniature portraits — her specialty — at her booth at the Winter Antiques Show January 19–29 at the Park Avenue Armory. In the days leading up to the show, Antiques And The Arts Weekly (www.AntiquesAndTheArts.com) will showcase 20 choice examples of Americana that will be offered here during New York City’s annual Americana Week.
“This, to me, is Americana,” Shushan said of this tiny yet powerful image. Dunkerley’s miniature, set in its original gold pendant case, measures a mere 15/8 inches tall. Against a mostly monochromatic palette, the vivid red of his lapels really stands out on the solder’s uniform. It was likely cherished by the family of that unidentified soldier and is historically significant today among the portrait miniatures of military leaders and statesmen that flourished in the midNineteenth Century to symbolize the birth of the new nation after its hard-fought battle for independence.
Dunkerley’s works are frequently attributed to John Singleton Copley given their delicate nature, small stature and similar casework, according to the Yale University Art Gallery, which has a pair of portraits by Dunkerley in its collection of a husband and wife, circa 1785. “The British-born Dunkerley arrived in America around the time of Copley’s departure for England, and became one of the first important miniaturists of the new republic. He had come to America during the Revolutionary war with the British army, which he deserted to serve as a lieutenant in the Massachusetts artillery regiment,” according to gallery notes.
After leaving the army in 1778, Dunkerley settled in Boston, Mass. A December 1784 advertisement in a Boston’s Independent Chronicle notes that he “still carries on his Profession of Painting in Miniature at his home in the North Square.”
Be sure to check out Shushan’s booth at the Winter Antiques Show for this work and other fine miniature works of Americana. For more information, www.winterantiquesshow.com or 212-987-0446. To reach Elle Shushan, www.portrait-miniatures.com.
For more articles on Americana and all things antiques, check our home page at www.AntiquesAndTheArts.com