Portrait miniature

A portrait miniature by Charles Rodius, Aus$40,000 (£20,885) at Artvisory.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

This 1833 work painted on ivory by Australian artist Charles Rodius (1802-60), depicting Sophie (or Sophia) Wiseman, was bought by The State Library of New South Wales.

It was offered at Melbourne auction house Artvisory in The Australian History Collection of Bruce Kerr and Janet Matthews sale. The late Bruce Kerr had purchased the miniature about 10 years ago for $850 on eBay in the US.

However, at the auction on October 22 it took Aus$40,000 (£20,885) against an estimate of Aus$600-1000.

When including buyer’s premium, the Aus$50,400 price was more than 50-times its estimate.

Artist retrospective 

The library is currently hosting an exhibition on the artist, billed as the ‘first ever retrospective of 19th century Australia’s best unknown artist, Charles Rodius’.

Born Joseph Meyer in Germany, Rodius came to England but was convicted of theft and sent to Australia where he continued to work as an artist. The new colony was home to a number of ‘convict artists’ including Joseph Lycett (1774-1828), Thomas Griffiths Wainewright (1794-1847) and Edmund Edgar (1804-54) as mentioned in ATG No 2604.

Sophia or Sophie was the second wife of Solomon Wiseman (1777-1838), a merchant from England who was convicted of theft and sent to Australia.

Once in Australia he was eventually pardoned and built a business in shipping and trading and created a ferry crossing, now called Wisemans Ferry.

The crossing has remained in use on its current site since 1829, making it the oldest ferry crossing still in operation in New South Wales, and possibly in Australia.