Massive Excitement for Miniature Portraits

The May Antiques and Interiors auction at Bellmans Sussex is set to include a single owner collection of portrait miniatures, which will go under the hammer on Tuesday 9th May.

The collection comprises almost thirty lots, all of which represent members of one family. A notable highlight is lot 1058, a George III portrait miniature on ivory of Mrs Sophia Beal Bonnell (1748-1841), by George Engleheart, which is expected to realise £600-1,000. Engleheart (1750-1829) is widely regarded as one of the greatest English portrait miniaturists. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in November 1769, and was a pupil of George Barret, R.A. and Sir Joshua Reynolds. He worked mainly in London for the whole of his career, regularly exhibiting at the Royal Academy from 1773 to 1822. Engleheart kept a detailed fee book from 1775 to 1813 (which remains in the possession of his family to this day): in it, some 4,853 miniatures are recorded as having been executed by him.

Bellmans portrait miniature specialist Silas Currie, who catalogued the collection, comments “it is unusual to get many Swedish miniatures offered for sale in this country - particularly ones of this quality, in their original gold frames. It is interesting to be able to offer some very fine late 18th century English portraits from the Bonnell family, executed on a variety of surfaces- ivory, canvas, marble and, in one extraordinarily curious example - hair!”  This is referring to lot 1062, a George III hand-worked 'hair stitch' self-portrait by Mary Anne Harvey Bonnell (1763-1853), incorporating hair from six friends, as well as a small section worked from the hair of Edward IV.

As a point of interest for potential purchasers, Silas’ cataloguing includes footnotes explaining the relationships between all the family members included in the collection.

The entire auction is on view from Friday 5th May, and will be fully illustrated online from Tuesday 2nd May. Online bidding is available via For more information and to register your interest, please contact Bellmans Auctioneers directly on 01403 700858, or email