Subject: Sir Henry Vane the Younger (1613-1662)
Artist: Unknown (After Samuel Cooper)
Medium: Watercolour on Thick Ivory (2mm)
This portrait miniature of Sir Henry Vane the Younger, takes its composition from a portrait in the Buccleuch Collection. That portrait, catalogued as Samuel Cooper, is related to a larger portrait in the NPG by Gilbert Soest (1605-1681). Though formerly Sir Henry Vane, the identity of the sitter is now described as unknown in the NPG catalogue of 2004.
The catalogue does not mention the miniature in the Buccleuch Collection, nor does it mention the appearance of the Soest painting in Sir Emery Walker and Charles Leslie’s Historical Portraits 1600-1700. A print of Vane in the NGS, dated to 1792 and “from an original miniature painting” appears to show the same man, but facing in the opposite direction. The inverting of the sitter during the engraving process was a common custom.
This extract written by Dr. J.L Propert is particularly interesting, when considering this miniature:
“It is quite uncertain at what period ivory first came into use as a basis of miniature portraits. I have a likeness of Frederic, Duke of Schomberg, the celebrated general of William III. It is done on a thick, rough piece of ivory, quite different from the thin slips which were afterwards used, and is the earliest specimen of an undoubted contemporary portrait executed on ivory that I have seen.”
The “Portrait Miniature Project” carried out at the Library and Archives of Canada, describes how “early miniatures on ivory were executed on thick pieces of ivory 1-2 mm) and they remain in fairly good condition. Significantly, they are usually not adhered to paper or card and therefore do not warp as much.”
Collection of W.R. Mann