May 2013 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Ode to John Keats

Screen shot 2013-05-20 at 1.57.59 PM.pngEarlier this spring Bonhams revealed the news that this unique portrait had turned up in its London office. The oval miniature is catalogued as 'Circle of Charles Hayter,' perhaps obscuring the fact that the image is generally accepted as one of the Romantic poet John Keats. Housed within a gold frame, the reverse reveals strands of dark blonde hair decorated with split seed pearls and gilt-wire. It has been consigned by an American, a descendant of Earle Vonard Weller (1890-1994), an author and avid collector of English Romantic poets. He is known to have purchased this miniature in 1931 from an antiques dealer in Knightsbridge. Though there is some debate over its identification as Keats, Bonhams' catalogue copy does a fine job in describing its history. 

The miniature will be auctioned on May 30th within its red leather traveling case, together with Autobiography of John Keats: Compiled from His Letters and Essays by none other than Earle Vonard Weller (Stanford University Press, 1933), in which an image of the very same miniature is color illustrated on the frontispiece. It is expected to reach £10,000-15,000 (US$ 15,000-23,000).

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