From "How to Identify Portrait Miniatures," by Dr. Geo.Williamson, Litt.D. (Courtesy of Messrs. Geo. Bell & Sons, Publishers).

"All the great miniature painters on ivory of bygone days finished their flesh by stippling, and what better precedent can our modern artists have ? Condemnation comes either from ignorance or incompetency, for much patience is required to master the technical difficulties."

Dr. Williamson's latest book is a useful epitome of his more elaborate works, but we think the title promises a little too much; more no doubt than the author intended to convey, for no one knows better than he does, that little more can be taught by any text-book on the subject than how to distinguish the general characteristics of certain miniature painters, by means of dates, colouring, and modes of signature. All such points for guidance are set forth so clearly in the book, that the attentive reader will not be likely in future to accept a miniature by Holbein painted on ivory or, necessarily, demur at one by Samuel Cooper painted on mutton-bone; he will be on the alert to note the difference between Cosway's soft treatment of the hair in masses, and Plimer's or Engleheart's more liney representation of a woman's tresses. He will know that all Cosway's best miniatures are signed on the back, in a variety of ways, and that if his initials " R. C." appear upon the face of a miniature, it may be taken almost for certain that the portrait is a forgery. He will also have noted that the deaf-and-dumb miniaturist, Richard Cross, used to put his initials "R. C." on the face of his miniatures, but that "his work does not resemble that of Cosway, and can generally be distinguished by an unusually yellowish tone in the colouring." And so with many another valuable hint drawn from Dr. Williamson's exhaustless store of expert knowledge of his subject.

To George Engleheart, the great rival of Cosway, our author devotes a very instructive chapter, and one to the latter's pupils, Andrew and Nathaniel

Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Richard Brinsley Sheridan