A beautifully executed miniature done by Benjamin Trott in watercolor on organic wafer. The sitter, ethereally painted against a light bluish and peach background, is an attractive blue eyed young lady wearing gold and ruby earrings and a pale peach gown with a ruffled neck and a blue sash.
Although it is clear, based on the style and artistic techniques, that the painting was done by Trott, a fragment of one of his business cards was also found in the case the miniature is housed in.
The condition of the painting is excellent, with no chips, cracks, bowing, or restoration. The light area at the top of the painting is due to reflection and does not exist when viewed in person. The condition of the case, which has a woven plait of hair in the glazed aperture on the reverse side,is also excellent. Sight size is 2 3/4" by 2 1/4".
1. From "The Smithsonian Art Museum": Benjamin Trott (c1770 - 1843), thought to have been born in Boston, ranks with Edward Greene Malbone and Charles Fraser as one of America's best miniaturists. During a long career that spanned from 1791 to 1841, Trott worked along the eastern seaboard from Boston to Charleston. In 1793 he settled in Philadelphia to make watercolor miniatures on ivory of Gilbert Stuart's portraits. Trott reached the height of his career, from 1806 to 1819, in Philadelphia, where he shared a studio with Thomas Sully for a time. He exhibited several miniatures at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1811 and 1812.
Though his miniatures varied widely in both conception and technique, Trott won high praise for his likenesses. His acclaim as a miniaturist stems from his skillful handling of color—he habitually incorporated the bare ivory into the color scheme—and his ability to render the sitter, typically male, with an economy of effort. For these reasons, Stuart favored Trott's copies of his portraits.
2. From "The Luce Artist Biography": Benjamin Trott's career unfolded in New York, Philadelphia, Kentucky, and Ohio before he established himself in the nation's capital. He was praised for the strong coloring and vivid likeness in his portraits, but his perfectionism and professional jealousy strained his relationships with fellow artists. He was obsessed with the idea that other painters such as Walter Robertson and Edward Greene Malbone knew better how to create pure pigments, and was determined to discover their secrets. Gilbert Stuart, with whom Trott had worked early in his career, was one of the few painters to remain friendly with the miniaturist. Trott's most successful work was created between 1800 and 1825, but his style later became unfashionable and his career suffered. Trott's obituary, however, credited his talent, acknowledging that his mind ". . . was vigorous, his genius undoubted, and his reputation equal to that of any other engaged in similar pursuits."