Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Painting of the Day: Family Portrait in a Conservatory, 1850

Family Portrait in a Conservatory
H.R. Miller, 1850
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Though somewhat crude for an 1850 portrait, this painting is nonetheless charming and appealing with its scene of a married couple, their three children, a kitten and a Skye Terrier dog.  They are depicted in their posh conservatory with a well-tended garden behind them.  Such a conservatory was quite a status symbol in a Victorian household during this period when a passion for gardening (or instructing gardeners on what to do) was highly valued. Pictured here are some of the most popular plants of the period, notably arum lilies, passion flowers and pelargoniums.

This is the work of H.R. Miller about whom little is known.
  Evidently, Miller was accustomed to working on smaller portraits and miniatures.  While his depiction of the family is somewhat fuzzy, he shows a remarkable attention to detail with the smaller elements of the piece—namely the jewelry and embroidery.  Furthermore, he must have had a keen interest in horticulture since his rendering of the plants and flowers is incredibly accurate.

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