1779 James Peale Miniature Portrait on Ivory

Value (2008) | $8,000 Auction$10,000 Auction

GUEST:
Oh, it's been in my family since, I guess 1779, or whenever it was painted. I am a descendant of the Lewis family. This is a Lewis. And it was painted by James Peale, who, at that time, was quite a well known artist.

APPRAISER:
Well, it is a remarkable, beautiful miniature portrait and, as you said, the artist James Peale painted it and it is signed and dated in the lower left, "I.P., '79"-- 1779. What a remarkable piece to survive through your family.

GUEST:
Yes, it is, thank you.

APPRAISER:
What's so remarkable to me and what I always find fascinating about the Peales and the Peale family of artists is that Charles Wilson Peale, who is perhaps the best known and sort of the patriarch of that family, was a painter, and he and his brother fought in the Revolutionary War.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm, that's right.

APPRAISER:
And they have an incredible ability to capture a certain spirit and a glimmer in the eye, and I think that's one of the aspects that makes these miniatures so appealing. After the Revolution, James Peale set up shop with his brother, Charles Wilson Peale, in Philadelphia. And it was Charles' job to paint full-length portraits, and James took over the watercolor miniatures. Another aspect that I always find remarkable is, if you've ever, even as a kid, painted with watercolor, you have to be so talented and so fast...

GUEST:
I know-- I do that now; yes.

APPRAISER:
To make an image like this, to capture somebody in watercolor. It's beautiful, and the green jacket is just stunning. The Lewis family were important parts of this country and the Revolution-- a governor of New York, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, fought in the Revolutionary War, and it's amazing to have this document of your family and a rare miniature by Peale. You had it appraised, or your mother had it appraised, in 1948?

GUEST:
I believe, yes.

APPRAISER:
And what was the appraisal?

GUEST:
Five hundred dollars. Five hundred dollars.

APPRAISER:
So you know it's worth at least $500.

GUEST:
Oh, yes, yes.

APPRAISER:
Well, if it was to go to auction today, we'd estimate its value to be $8,000 to $10,000.

GUEST:
Ooh, that's nice. Thank you.

APPRAISER:
It is beautiful. It really is; it's a remarkable image.

GUEST:
Wonderful. My children and grandchildren will be thrilled.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Christie's
New York, NY
Appraised value (2008)
$8,000 Auction$10,000 Auction
Event
Palm Springs, CA (June 07, 2008)
Period
18th Century
Material
Ivory

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