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Mia Bella

"My Beautiful One"

Mia Bella
by Georgina Ball Hughes, 1876
59 Torrington Square, London, W.C.
All images courtesy of Lefays.com


Closeup of Mia Bella 


 GBH  Signature Monogram

See Signature and Monogram on the www.Artlex.com online Art Dictionary for information about artists signatures.


 Labels on back


Label 1 of 4
Mia Bella
8 Gns paid for this picture
at Torrington Sq.
by Mr. Ralph
Label 2 of 4
Mia Bella 1876
By/ Georgina Ball Hughes
London. 59 Torrington Square.  W.C.
Price-ten (10) guineas.
London W.C. stands for West Central London
Label 3 of 4
This picture is a gift to
Elizabeth Ralph from her
affectionate Papa
James Ralph
1st January 1880


Label 4 of 4
Georgina Ball Hughes
59 Torrington Square
London. W.C.
No. 1
Mia Bella
ARTIST: Georgina Ball Hughes (American 1829-1911) TITLE: Mia Bella (1876) MEDIUM: Watercolour MARKS: Monogram lower right; multiple inscriptions on reverse of frame (see images and below). SIZE: 15 x 18.3cm (approx 6 x 7.25in) oval. FRAME: Good glazed gilt composition with gilt mount, probably original (overall size: 29.5 x 33cm (approx 11.75 x 13in).
PROVENANCE: From the inscriptions on the reverse, the painting was purchased for 8 guineas by Mr Ralph and then given by James Ralph to his daughter, Elizabeth, in January 1880. On the lowest calculation (retail price index) 8 guineas represents £620 in today's money.
CONDITION: In very good condition, the colours fresh with minimal fading. Two small spots, possibly foxing, one near the edge at 9 o'clock the other on her shawl where it goes over her head at 2 o'clock. We have not examined this painting out of its frame. The frame has age-related stable stress cracks in the decorative moulding but no damage.
    This portrait by Georgina Ball Hughes was discovered in England in 2008.  It's the first example of her work that I've found so far.  Mia Bella is usually translated from Italian to English as "my beautiful one."

    From the labels on the back of this painting we learn that Georgina lived at 59 Torrington Square in London.  This is a very nice area in Central London near the British Museum that has been inhabited by artists and writers.

    We now know that she lived in London in 1876 as well as in 1870-71, when her Mother, Eliza Ball Hughes, visited with her.  According to her obituary, Georgina lived much of her time in London.  She was also quoted in article about Ball Hughes in the (Boston) Sunday Globe in March 1907 as saying she resided in London for 23 years.

    Georgina reportedly lived at 5 Lyndhurst Rd., Hampsted in 1889 when she exhibited a painting at the Royal Academy. At some point she returned to Dorchester, Mass. and lived in the family home Sunnyside, that she had purchased at the urging of her mother in 1866, until she died in 1911.

    The handwriting on the first two labels above is probably Georgina's as it's the same as the handwriting on the back of The English Gypsies that was painted by her Mother, Eliza, in London in 1870.

    We also know for sure now that her name was spelled Georgina, and not Georgiana or Georgianna, as is recorded in some references.


Please Help

Do you know more about the Mia Bella or know of other paintings by Georgina Ball Hughes?  Is this portrait a copy of another painting?


last update 2/27/2012

For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2012

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