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Maker Once Known
Portrait of Fanny Laura Christie Portrait of Fanny Laura Christie
around 1890 around 1890

Portraits, particularly in miniature, were not only intended to mark the sitter’s status. As an intimate art form, they also served as mementos of loved ones. Many were traditionally painted with watercolour on thin sheets of ivory and kept in small locket-like cases, as with the portrait of Fanny Laura Christie. Appearing as early as the 1520s in France and England, miniature portraits retained popularity up to the photographic age. There was also a revival at the end of the 19th-century in the UK with the 1896 establishment of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters. These portraits are from this era and reveal a photographic aesthetic in their detailed finish. The portrait of Fanny Christie incorporates the more traditional stippled technique of miniature painting, while she herself is represented as a modern woman.

William Mellis Christie (Huntly, Scotland 1830-Toronto 1900) built a fortune making cookies, which are still well known and eaten today. At the height of his success, Christie’s cookie factory occupied an entire city block in Toronto between Adelaide and King at Frederick Street. The Christie mansion, built in 1881, is now Regis College, University of Toronto (at the corner of Wellesley across from Queen’s Park). Fanny Laura was the youngest of three daughters; Christie also had one son who survived to adulthood, Robert Jaffray.

 
Maker Once Known
Portrait of Fanny Laura Christie Portrait of Fanny Laura Christie
around 1890 around 1890
watercolour on ivory watercolour on ivory
9.5 x 7.0 cm (oval, inside frame)
Gift of W. McAllister Johnson, 2014 Gift of W. McAllister Johnson, 2014
57-019.02

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