Poultney, Richard Curzon - portrait of a young lady

This is an interesting miniature portrait. It is signed with a monogram and date "R C P 1889" for Richard Curzon Poultney. Poultney is described in Blattel as a British artist, but research has shown that he was actually American.

The miniature is interesting as it is the earliest American miniature in this collection showing the influence of the brighter palette associated with Impressionism.

Most miniatures prior to this date were trying to imitate photographs. However, it seems Poultney went and studied in Europe and was influenced by the Art Nouveau style. This miniature seems much more like a life portrait, than a copy of a photograph.

Poultney was a member of a very wealthy family from Baltimore, Maryland. He was born in 1860 and died as still a young man in 1897. If he had lived longer, it seems almost certain he would have become as well known as other 1900 miniaturists such as WJ Baer, Alyn Williams, and Eulabee Dix.

There are two references that record Poultney as an artist. The Baltimore directory for 1890 lists him as an artist living at 1320 Bolton St , Baltimore. Then on Jul 30 1894 he arrived back in USA from Europe on the SS Umbria, giving his occupation as artist.

In the 1880 census he is recorded as living with his parents Thomas and Susan Poultney and siblings in Baltimore where his father was with the Baltimore Oil Company.

His uncle Walter de Curzon Poultney (1845-1929) who also worked for the oil company was a well known socialite of the time.

Other miniatures by Poultney are held by the Maryland Historical Society, one of which seems to be of a close relation, see Maryland ArtSource - Collections - Nancy Poultney Falconer (Mrs ...

Unfortunately, the sitter in this portrait is unknown. 1245

Much later - A kind visitor has researched this miniature portrait and advises as below. While difficult to be certain, the identity suggested does seem quite possible. In addition to the points noted, her eyebrows are similar and, to me, the sitter may well be aged 15 or 16, which would then fit with an 1874 birth date.

[[ I was researching an obscure American artist and came across your portrait of “A Young Lady” by Richard Curzon Poultney and as always, was entranced by your information:

Since the sitter was unknown, I did a quick look on the web and found a catalogue, “Loan Exhibition of Portraits for the Benefit of the Orthopaedic Hospital” December 1898. On page 63, there is an entry 444 [no illustration] for a miniature portrait [miniatures begin on page 48] of “Miss Madeline Ives Goddard,” loaned by Mrs. R. H. Goddard [Madeline’s mother].  This catalogue can be accessed at:

So for fun, I searched for Madeline Ives Goddard and immediately found a photo of this well-known socialite. Considering Poultney’s background, I became convinced that your miniature is indeed Madeline Ives Goddard --- or, as is my usual, is probably just wishful thinking. Regardless, I decided to pass my hypothesis along to you to see what you think. Her broad “chubby” chin is so distinct. My only conflict is that she was born July 1, 1874

and your miniature is dated 1889, which would make her a very mature-looking girl aged 15 or 16. The photo is not dated, she married at the age of 32 in 1902, and she is not wearing a ring in the photo.


The photograph above is on the Rhode Island Foundation site, see attached Acrobat file, that I accessed at:

Since she formed a foundation for the benefit of hospitals, it makes sense that her miniature was exhibited in 1889 for the benefit of a hospital. The foundation is still in existence and supported by third-generation Goddard family members:

Her father, Colonel Robert Hale Ives Goddard, was a “prominent banker, industrialist, U. S. Army Officer, state senator, and philanthropist. See Wikipedia:

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