A Young Officer

Thomas Peat (English, active 1791–1831)circa 1795

Cincinnati Art Museum

Cincinnati Art Museum

Portrait miniatures of men who were in the armed forces often have hairwork on their backs. The addition of the sitter’s hair brought the memory of a loved one who was far away close to whoever wore or held the miniature. In this example, the Prince of Wales feathers are made from hair taken from two people, most likely the portrait’s subject and the original owner of the miniature. Combining the hair into one design created an emphatic link between the two, forever connecting them in their love for each other. This idea is furthered by the remaining decorative elements: the gold ears of wheat represent constancy, and “souvenir” written in seed pearls refers to the word’s original meaning of a memory or reminder.

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  • Title: A Young Officer
  • Creator: Thomas Peat (English, active 1791–1831)
  • Date Created: circa 1795
  • Location: England
  • Physical Dimensions: 2 ½ x 2 in. (6.4 x 5.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fleischmann in memory of Julius Fleischmann
  • Accession Number: 1990.1892
  • Medium: watercolor on ivory (recto), hair, gold wire, seed pearls, and glass (verso)


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