An extremely fine miniature portrait by John Henry Brown, done in watercolors on natural material. One of the best examples of his skill, showing an attractive woman, beautifully painted. Adding to the importance of this piece is that Brown used a trompe l'oeil technique in painting what appears to be matting around the portrait. Signed "J Brown Pinxt" lower left along the curved line of the matte. Inside the case was a piece of paper with information about the sitter: "Mary E. Mathias Lancaster Penn November 17, 1841".
Excellent condition, with a sight size of 2 3/4" by 2 1/4", including the faux matting. Presented in what is probably the original leather over wood case, which does have wear.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: John Henry Brown (1818-1891), born in Lancaster, PA, began an apprenticeship in 1836 to the painter Arthur Armstrong while working as a clerk in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Recorder's Office. In 1839 Brown established himself as a professional portraitist and sign painter, but in 1844 began devoting himself exclusively to miniature painting, initially with enormous success. The following year he settled in Philadelphia, where he exhibited his miniatures frequently at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and at the Artists' Fund Society until 1864. He was commissioned to do a portrait of Abraham Lincoln and also did works of many other notables, including James Buchanan and Stonewall Jackson.