My first painted miniature, of an 18th century male, is set in a rose gold brooch frame with ivy leaves around the rim. The painting is enamelled. The gentleman, who has brown eyes, is wearing a wig, tied with a black ribbon at the back. He is wearing a green coat with black buttons, a white shirt and a white stock around his neck. The back of the brooch has a glazed compartment which might once have held some hair or other memento but it is now empty.

Miniature of a gentleman in a green coat, 18th century, gold frame

My next miniature, from the late Georgian period, is of this very handsome man. He has blue eyes and his hair has been cut short and beautifully arranged in little curls around his face, although I think it is beginning to thin a little. He is wearing a black wool jacket with a high collar and what could be a satin lapel, and a white shirt and cravat.

Late Georgian miniature painting of a very handsome man

The miniature is set in a rose gold frame. On the obverse side, there are some locks of his hair, some initials picked out in tiny seed pearls against a blue background, three wheat stalks and some gold twine.

Back of miniature painting with lock of hair, pearls and initials

The next painted miniatures are different in that they are paintings of Louis XVIII of France but at different stages of his reign. Louis XVIII was King of France from 1814 to 1824, except for a 100 day period during Napoleon’s escape from Elba in 1815. He was the brother of Louis XVI who, with his wife Marie Antoinette, was guillotined in 1793. When his nephew, Louis XVII, died in prison in 1795, he proclaimed himself king. He was to spend twenty-three years in exile throughout the French Revolution and the First French Empire before being returned to the French throne in 1814.

These paintings are French medallions and are fixés sous verre, that is, fixed under glass. They have an eglomized gold decoration. Verre églomisé involves a process from antiquity of applying both a design and gilding onto the rear face of glass to produce a mirror finish. The name comes from the 18th-century French picture framer, Jean-Baptiste Glomy, who revived the process.

Two Georgian Louis XVIII pendants

The portraits are based on paintings of the King in which he is usually depicted wearing the blue sash and the breast star of the Order of the Saint Esprit. The two medallions I have have apparently being painted by two different artists. I have found online another four of these miniatures and in each one the portrait is different but the blue sash is present.

The back of the medallions are glazed and lined with a light blue and cream material and one has a curl of hair.

In my next post, I will discuss the introduction of photographs and their use in jewellery.