At year end, it seems appropriate to review progress during 2006, when the aim for the year had been to improve the average quality within the collection.
A total of 47 miniatures, being those appearing in this Recent Additions Gallery up to December 2006, were added to the collection in the 13 months from and including December 2005 (but excluding those described as revisions). The additions comprise 24 American, 19 European, and 4 British miniatures.
It was fortunately possible to keep the average cost of the 47 miniatures below $500, and thus in line with the average cost of previous years. This was pleasing as some good artists and sitters were added. Maintaining a constant average has been a good discipline in seeking additions, as it is so easy for one's eye to be bigger than one's wallet.
While there is nothing special about a target below $500, one aim of displaying this collection is the hope that it does demonstrate that one can assemble in a single year, an interesting collection of original art at a cost no greater than what some wealthy collectors are willing pay for a single limited edition print, or even a single miniature portrait by John Smart!! I suspect some purists would rather have a single John Smart miniature, but I am convinced they would have not had as much fun in building their collection.
Thus hopefully, this review will be an encouragement to potential new collectors of miniatures. A low average cost helps to make it fun to try and do well, given a limited budget. To assist with the budget, a significant part of the funding has come from selling items out of the collection, where it was felt this would enhance the overall collection.
Of the 47 miniatures, 33 are either signed or attributable to specific artists. In hindsight, this is a pleasingly high proportion. The other 14 were chosen because they were unusual or good quality examples. There are also several very interesting sitters. In the future, there is likely to be a greater focus on named sitters, as there is much satisfaction in researching them and seeking items relevant to their life, as with the postage stamps incorporating the portrait of Silas Wright.
The knowledge additions would be displayed in this Gallery has been a good discipline in deciding whether potential additions could pass the test of improving the average quality.
Some visitors may feel this test has not always been achieved. However, in defence of the additions, an aim is to develop a reference collection, particularly of American miniatures, with a bias towards signed portraits, and thus a need to include works by lesser artists.
On several occasions during the year, it seemed that there would be nothing affordable or interesting enough to acquire during a particular month, but something affordable usually turned up in the end.
Overall the year is regarded as much more successful than was anticipated a year ago. As a consequence, it is felt at this point that it may be difficult to make quite as much progress during 2007.