Elizabethan miniature makes a big profit in Bonhams' $64,000 sale

A portrait of Elizabeth I was the star attraction of Bonhams' second Fine Portrait Miniatures auction of the year in Knightsbridge on Thursday (November 24). The sale made total of £371,000 with many lots beating their pre-sale estimates.

The portrait of the Queen was painted by one of her favourite miniaturists, Nicholas Hilliard, who chose to specifically concentrate on her costume and jewellery, whilst always painting the Queens face simply and youthfully.

Hilliard is considered one of the masters of the genre, and the superb example of his work exceeded the pre-sale estimate of £15,000 - £20,000 to sell for an impressive £40,800.

The other notable lot was of a piece depicting a smart officer wearing a red coatee by the artist John Smart, painted during his time in India in 1794. It reached the second-highest price of the sale, realising £24,000.  

Further highlights included a portrait miniature by Horace Hone of Sarah Siddons (1755 - 1825), a British actress who found fame on Drury Lane for her portrayal of Lady Macbeth and became the best known tragedienne of the 18th century. The portrait sold for £12,000 against a pre-sale estimate of £6,000 - 8,000.

Other portrait miniatures of historical celebrities included Charles Dickens, painted in 1868 by Walter Saunders Barnard (1851-1930) a mere two years before Dickens died. It sold for £1,800.

Considered to be the first English-language author to have a truly international career during his lifetime, a portrait of novelist Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832) by William Bishop Ford (1832 -1922) brought £1200.

Overall, this sale out-performed their previous miniatures auction in April this year which took a total of £203,040, proving the continued strength and growth of the market during the last six months.


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