30 September 2014

A portrait miniature of 'Pitt the Statesman' by Joseph Daniel of Bath

By repute, a portrait miniature of 'Pitt the Statesman' by Joseph Daniel

Inside a relatively obscure tome entitled Collecting Miniatures by Daphne Foskett (1979), there is a description and an image of a miniature that is supposedly of William Pitt the Younger (c. 1800). It is signed by the miniature artist Joseph Daniel (c. 1760-1803). Originally from Bridgwater, Somerset, Daniel and his brother Abraham became competing miniature artists in Bath, as both men advertised in local papers as "Mr. Daniel of Bath" [1]. Joseph was known to have worked in Bristol from 1777 onwards, making his primary place of work at Bath from about 1786; his name is traceable through the Rate Books and Directories of Bath from 1786 until his death in 1803 [2]. The miniature reputed to be of William Pitt the Younger is signed with the initials "JD," and is the only known signed work of Joseph Daniel. 

Foskett describes the alleged attribution thus: "[the miniature] bears an inscription on the reverse, written by G. Blakie Morgan, who traced the miniature back to his father's death in 1877 when it was given to his mother; it had always been known in the family as 'Pitt the Statesman,' and was sold by Sotheby's in Zurich on 15th November 1977 for £1,200" [3]. She also states that "it is a half-length portrait against a sea-scape background, and...the miniature is painted in brownish tones and is signed 'JD'" [4]. 

If this miniature is of William Pitt, it would have been taken around the year 1800 (possibly 1802), when he was staying in Bath at the end of that year. Joseph Daniel was very ill for the last 13 months of his life, and he died in August of 1803, so it's possible - although not very probable - that Daniel could have undertaken this work. 

However, to me it is difficult to determine whether this miniature actually represents William Pitt the Younger. Nonetheless, it would be interesting to see it in colour, and to find out its present-day whereabouts. If you're reading this, and you have any information (or are a collector of miniatures), I'd be delighted to hear from you.


1. Foskett, D. (1979) Collecting Miniatures. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Antique Collectors Club, p. 247.

2. Ibid, p. 249.

3. Ibid, p. 250.

4. Ibid, p. 247.

Image Credit:

The scanned image above may be found on p. 250 of Foskett, D. (1979) Collecting Miniatures. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Antique Collectors Club.

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