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Bernd Pappe and Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten, eds. Miniaturen der Barockzeit aus der Sammlung Tansey/Miniatures from the Baroque Period in the Tansey Collection.

Bernd Pappe and Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten, eds. Miniaturen der Barockzeit aus der Sammlung Tansey/Miniatures from the Baroque Period in the Tansey Collection. Celle: The Tansey Miniatures Foundation, and Munich: Hirmer Verlag GmbH, 2016. 396 pp. + 210 illus. $64.00. Review by Alison C. Fleming, Winston-Salem State University.

This large and beautifully presented volume will engage scholars of the Baroque period in Europe, offering a comprehensive overview of a diverse collection of miniature paintings. The book is organized coherently, incorporating thematic essays and a detailed catalog, as well as the requisite supplementary material (such as brief biographies of the artists in the collection). In addition, it is fully bilingual, presenting all text and image captions in both German and English.

Two short statements at the outset provide the reader with valuable background and context. Juliane Schmieglitz-Otten, Head of the Residenzmuseum in Celle Castle, is responsible for the Tansey Miniatures Collection, while Jochen Meiners is the Director of the Bomann-Museum, Celle. Their forewords outline the history and current status of the collection, amassed by Lieselotte and Ernst Tansey over more than half a century. The Tanseys collected larger works--paintings and furniture and silver--but also established an interest in European miniature paintings. Their substantial collection, put into a private foundation in 1997, has been shared with the public in a series of exhibitions and catalogs at the Bomann-Museum in Celle. The volume under consideration here is the sixth in this series, exhibiting the earliest works in the collection. Previously a general exhibition, four exhibits covering specific periods: the Rococo, the era of Marie Antoinette, the era of the Revolution of 1789-1799, and the nineteenth century, were held. Each featured approximately 150-160 miniatures. More exhibitions are expected to follow, as the works in the collection date into the twentieth century. This book is dedicated to the memory of the Tanseys. Although both are now deceased, the staff of the Bomann-Museum in Celle is dedicated to preserving and sharing this extraordinary collection of miniature paintings in their memory.

Four substantial essays by Bernd Pappe, Hans Boeckh, Nathalie Lemoine-Bouchard, and Gerrit Walczak, situate the miniatures in the collection into a broader context. They consider other miniatures and painters of miniatures, and the relationship between miniatures and large-scale paintings. Pappe's essay, "Miniatures of the Baroque Period in the Tansey Collection," provides important background. He describes the evolution of miniature painting from medieval manuscripts, and explains how the works in this collection elucidate the early forays into painting on a very small scale. He notes that miniatures are first seen in England and that much of the research on miniaturists has been on English artists as a result--but this catalog should begin to make up lost ground. He examines typical aspects of the production of miniatures and their different characteristics, including their role as gifts to signify rank and loyalty. This essay is well placed to serve as a general introduction, not simply to this collection of works, but to the study of miniature painting as a whole.

The other three essays examine specific aspects of miniatures in the Baroque period, contributing to a better understanding of particular aspects of the works in the Tansey collection. Boeckh, in an essay titled "Enamelled Baroque Miniature Portraits in France and Other Countries," considers miniatures painted in enamel, particularly in France where the technique originated, and mostly between c.1630 and 1730. He emphasizes that achieving a thorough understanding of these works will require investigation through a variety of approaches and disciplines, underscoring the scientific developments that made this technique possible. Lemoine-Bouchard's essay, "Miniature Painters in 17th century France," also focuses on French miniaturists, surveying patterns of patronage and production. She also analyzes the various subjects painted--flowers, fruits, and other botanicals, as well as animals, insects, birds, and occasionally mythological subjects--in addition to the expected portraits. As in all of these essays, the appraisal of miniatures outside the collection (and the illustration of many of them) allows the reader to contemplate the larger picture and realize how the Tansey collection works fit into the whole. Finally, the essay by Walczak, "The Picture in the Hand: Oil Miniatures in 17th century Dutch painting" treats the portrayal of miniatures represented in large-scale paintings. His assessment that "Miniature likenesses in paintings are representative, inanimate objects acting as intermediaries between the persons present and those absent" (84) allows for a thoughtful investigation of picture-within-picture paintings.

The bulk of the volume is the catalog of 120 works. Ranging in date from c.1595 to the 1730s, the works primarily date to the first half of the seventeenth century. Despite the fact that the term "miniature" can be applied to all of these works, they are incredibly varied. Although they are typically oval, some are round, square, or rectangular. The smallest examples are less than 3 cm x 3 cm, while a few larger examples measure closer to 20 cm x 15 cm. The materials used to create these miniatures vary considerably; in some cases the materials are connected to the geographic area where they were produced. Three techniques were common: oil paint on metal (usually copper) or card, enamel on metal (gold, in one luxurious example), and watercolor and gouache on parchment, or later on ivory. But the catalog also includes one produced in pastels on paper, another in silverpoint and watercolor on parchment, and some striking examples by Karl Gustav Klingstedt who used Indian ink and watercolor on parchment to achieve the effect of grisaille. Similarly, a variety of materials were used to encase the miniatures. Most are simply framed with wood, ivory, tortoiseshell, or metal, while others are surrounded by ornate filigree or placed in frames adorned with precious gemstones. One of the miniatures depicting King Louis XIV of France is set into a sumptuous gold frame topped by a crown replete with diamonds. Many of the works were intended to serve as jewelry, and their frames include rings that allowed them to be hung from chains as pendants, lockets, or medallions. Some could also be worn as brooches, while others were incorporated into boxes or cases.

As one would expect, the vast majority of the subjects represented are portraits. Although many are of unidentified persons, some depict prominent rulers of the period, including King Christian V of Denmark and Norway (cat. 10), King Frederick I of Prussia (cat. 12), Queen Anne Stuart of Great Britain (cat. 19), King Augustus II of Poland (cat. 21), King Frederick of Sweden (cat. 34 and 49), Queen Anne of France (cat. 40), King Louis XIV of France (cat. 42 and 87), and King William III of England and Ireland (cat. 79), as well as numerous other members of the royal families of seventeenth-century Europe. In addition to men and women of all types and ages, there are also a few representing children. Even in the extremely small size, the details are extraordinarily precise: jewels, hair and head coverings, bows, fur, lace, armor, and other aspects of clothing are intricately and finely rendered. Some sitters are placed against elaborate backgrounds (notably landscapes), or depicted holding objects such as letters, quills and paper, mirrors, guns, snuff boxes, and dogs. But not all of the miniatures in the Tansey Collection are individual portraits. The aforementioned works by Karl Gustav Klingstedt, an artist born in Riga who worked predominantly in Paris in the early eighteenth century, include a group portrait of traveling entertainers (cat. 33), a Lady with Cupid (cat. 30), a Lady with a Letter (cat. 31), and a Lady with a Moorish Boy (cat. 32). A large number of Klingstedt's miniatures were produced for snuff boxes, which may account for the diverse subject matter; in fact, he was apparently referred to as the "Raphael of snuff boxes" by his contemporaries. A Madonna and Child (cat. 88), produced by a French artist after a lost original by Pierre Mignard, and an Allegory of Painting (cat. 93), perhaps by an artist associated with the court of King Louis XIV, are among the other unusual subjects included in the collection. There are also two interesting miniatures attributed to Josef Anton Fischer that are copies of (larger-scale) self-portraits by Jan Kupecky

The Tansey Collection includes works by artists from all over Europe, notably French, German, and English painters. The names of the artists are known for approximately half of the examples, and include some who also painted in larger scale, such as the Dutch master Gerard ter Borch. Most are unsigned, but a few include inscriptions, monograms, or signatures. The majority of those represented were specialists in miniatures, such as Benjamin Arlaud, Samuel Blesendorf, Charles Boit, Samuel Cooper, Perpete Evrard, John Hoskins, brothers Jean-Pierre and Amy Huaud, Karl Gustav Klingstedt, Niklas Lafrensen the Elder, David Le Clerc, Peter Paul Lens, Jean-Baptiste Masse, Jean Petitot, Paul Prieur, brothers Christian and David Richter, Henri Toutin, and Christian Friedrich Zincke. There are also notable examples by female painters Rosalba Carriera, Susan Penelope Rosse, and Henrietta Wolters-van Pee.

Miniatures from the Baroque Period in the Tansey Collection will serve as a valuable resource for students and scholars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A great deal about miniature painting in this era will be learned from this carefully researched, abundantly illustrated, and well-presented volume. As the book is placed within a larger series, Baroque miniature specialists may also be interested in reading the other catalogs, featuring the later examples in the Tansey Collection.
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Author:Fleming, Alison C.
Publication:Seventeenth-Century News
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2017
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