Wednesday

Fairfield, Agnes - portrait of a man holding a Bradshaw's Guide

This miniature portrait appears to be by a very capable, but seemingly unrecorded artist. It was described only as;
This auction is for a framed miniature painting of a victorian gentleman holding a copy of BRADSHAWS GUIDE,maybe the great man himself,it measures 14.5" by 13",it is in really nice condition,the frame and mount are tired as per the photos.

However, on arrival it was a nice surprise to find that it is signed on the reverse, "Painted by Agnes Fairfield, March 1886".

A little detective work has revealed Agnes Fairfield (c1836-1906) as the daughter of another very capable, but little known artist, Anne Fairfield (c1806-1883) who has four works depicted on page 172 of the Cincinnati catalogue and also one miniature in this collection,  Fairfield, Anne - portrait of Arthur Player

Anne Fairfield left an estate of £1,406-11s-7d with the probate record for 1883 reading;
22 November. The will of Anne Fairfield late of 13 James-street Birkenhead in the County of Chester (sic) Widow who died 31 July 1883 at 13 James-street was proved at Chester by Agnes Fairfield of 13 James-street the Daughter of one of the Executors.

The 1861 census records the family living at Woodchurch Road, Heath Terrace. The family comprised;
James Fairfield Head Mar. 56 Cornbroker - born Gloucestershire, Wick
Ann Fairfield Wife Mar 58 Artist (Miniature) - born Lancashire, Liverpool
Elizabeth A Fairfield Dau   Un   25 do.-    born do.
Agnes Fairfield Dau    Un   24 do. -    born do.
Thomas H Fairfield  Son Un 21 Bookkeeper - born Lancashire West Derby
Lawrencina Fairfield Dau 16 Scholar - born Cheshire, Tranmere
Robert J Fairfield Son 14 Scholar - born do.
Hugh Fairfield Son 12 Scholar - born Cheshire, Oxton

Thus, the family had moved about in a reasonably close area, as their fortunes changes and there were three miniature painters in the family, Anne, Elizabeth, and Agnes. Anne also described herself as an artist in 1851. In 1871 Both Anne and Agnes described themselves as artists, as did Lawrencina now aged 26. In 1881, Anne, 75 and Agnes, 42 both described themselves as artists, but Lawrencina, 36 gave no occupation.

There is also a record of Agnes as a sculptor, with 13 James Street, as her address,  Miss Agnes Fairfield - Mapping Sculpture - University of Glasgow However, one is more inclined to perhaps wonder if that was also a portrait, as it was titled 'The Corsair's Bride'. This portrait may even be the same one, although it may instead be by her mother. It was signed 'A Fairfield' and described as 'ORIENTALIST PORTRAIT MINIATURE OF A YOUNG BEAUTY 5"x 3 3/4" watercolor on ivory signed "A. Fairfield" probably Agnes Fairfield late 19th century'; and was sold in 2010 in America for $550.

Agnes has not been located in the 1891 census, but in 1901 Agnes still described herself as a miniature artist, aged 63, however, sadly she was recorded as an inmate, along with a very large number of others, at the Cheshire District County Pauper and Lunatic Asylum where she died in 1906 aged 68. One wonders what had happened to her siblings and that none of them seem to have taken her in her old age.

For Anne to have painted miniatures for over 30 years, Agnes for a similar period, also Elizabeth and Lawrencina for a period, there must have been a large number of miniatures painted. Presumably many must still exist in the Liverpool area.

The wording is not very clear in this image, but is clearer in greater definition. Bradshaw's Guide was very famous for its timetables and travel information and the sitter must have had an important connection with the Guide. So far he is unidentified, but any expert opinion on his identity would be welcomed.

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