Emma Rutherford

Emma Rutherford has launched The Limner Company.

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The Limner Company, which takes its name from the original word for a portrait painter, will deal in miniatures and provide other services including research and restoration.

Rutherford will work with Rebecca Ingram, previously researcher and digital manager at Philip Mould, with conservation services provided by Alan Derbyshire, previously head of conservation at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The collecting area of portrait miniatures has waned since the late 1990s and – while still legal to trade – the medium has also suffered at the hands of the Ivory Act which requires miniatures painted on ivory to be sold with a certificate costing £20.

However, Rutherford believes there is still plenty of life in the market.

She said: “While consulting for other dealers, auction houses and public institutions for the past 15 years, I have seen a growing interest in portrait miniatures – they tell such an intimate story and appeal to anyone with a fascination of history, yet have remained relatively affordable.”

Portrait by Jean Baptiste Singry

Portrait of a lady, probably the artist’s wife, Catherine-Émélie (nèe) Mailfer, by Jean Baptiste Singry (1782-1824) and dated 1818.

Rutherford has built up a following on Instagram (with close to 8000 followers) and will run the business primarily as an online-focused venture via a relaunched website, blog posts, monthly newsletters and Instagram.

The Limner Company’s first selling exhibition is planned for late this month as a ‘pop-up’ in the Mason’s Yard, Mayfair gallery of Guy Peppiatt Fine Art.

James Brydges

Portrait of James Brydges, 8th Baron Chandos (1642- 1714), Ambassador at Constantinople from 1680-84 (and an ancestor of Jane Austen) by Jacques-Antoine Arlaud (1668-1743).

With prices ranging from £1000-30,000, the show will include around 50 miniatures ranging from the 16th to the 19th century.

Rutherford will continue to work with museum clients and is involved as a curator on a new project with Compton Verney, Warwickshi re, scheduled for autumn 2024, which is focused on exhibiting its collection of 900 portrait miniatures.


See Auction Reports for more on portrait miniatures.