Newell, Claude Potter - portrait of lady and daughters

This portrait has been acquired for the collection, although many collectors would not regard it as miniature portrait due to its size. However, it is painted using miniaturist techniques and thus provides a most unusual and large example of a miniature painter's skill.

Given the size and the amount of detail, it must have been a very expensive portrait when it was painted.

It is signed "C P Newell 1924" for Claude Potter Newell (1870->1930). He does not feature in the reference books, but was a highly regarded artist who painted wedding anniversary miniature portraits of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Two miniatures by C P Newell do appear in this collection. They are dated 1916 and 1918. See Newell, Claude Potter - portrait of a 20C lady and Newell, Claude Potter - portrait of a child

The size is 350 mm x 270 mm, thus it is really too large to be described as a miniature. It is painted on a hard thin white substance which is glued to card, so the reverse of the ground cannot be inspected.

It is too large to be a single sheet of ivory and no joins are apparent, although the ground is of similar thickness to that used for normal ivory miniatures.

Hence it must be on a thin sheet of ivorine, a plastic product which was first produced by the Xylonite Company in 1866.

Although much larger, the frame is the same design as was used for miniature frames around 1920, with an ornate chased border and a hanger of typical American design.

The portrait is very detailed, something that is really only possible because of the ivorine ground.

The detail would be lost if it had been painted on canvas or paper.

Most large portraits are not designed for close inspection and need to be viewed from a distance to appreciate the skill of the artist.

However, this portrait can be viewed under a magnifying glass and the skill in painting the detail of the faces and dresses is then appreciated.

It is sometimes said that the evidence of a skilled artist becomes apparent when one looks at how hands are painted.

Many artists are deficient in this area, but the close up image shown here indicates that Newell was very skilled at painting hands.

The sitters are unknown. 1260


Anonymous said...

i cant believe this is on here , i owned this painting at one time , it was one of my favorite object , a true work of art

Don Shelton said...

I agree it is a fabulous portrait and I was lucky to be able to buy it on eBay. As you would know, the photos do not do it justice.