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Portrait miniature dealer Elle Shushan has relocated from New York to Philadelphia, where she pronounces herself exceptionally pleased with her new city. Nesting in a landmark Georgian Revival building that she confesses is still a little unfinished, Shushan is waiting for antiquarian designer Ralph Harvard to come "do" the area she plans to use as an exhibit space. It's an open area, with double exposures and no direct sunlight, perfect for displaying the delicate portraits she’s known for. Why Philadelphia? "I have the freedom to live where I want and I love Philadelphia. It's close to everything and everything is here," she says.

The New Orleans native started out as a theatrical agent at William Morris in New York City. "I was selling talking faces while collecting the silent ones [portrait miniatures] on the side," she says. Realizing her true love was in miniatures, her hobby became her profession. Shushan's connection with these small portraits seems hereditary: her great uncle, English-born Harry Latter, and his daughter gave the highly regarded Latter-Schlesinger collection of over 200 miniature portraits to the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Shushan, who consults with museums and has contributed to several landmark publications, handles miniatures dating from as early as the sixteenth century. These early examples are of French, Dutch, English, and German origin, but she is perhaps best known for the American examples she offers. While continuing to trade in the categories for which she is so well respected, Shushan has a burgeoning interest in living portrait miniaturists, among them Boston’s Jonathan Fairbanks and Charleston’s Thomas Sully III, of the artistic Sully family. Their works, among others, will be displayed in the space awaiting Harvard’s magic touch.

Augustus Decorative Arts, Ltd. 1600 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. 267.514.2033; www.portrait-miniatures.com.

Frances McQueeney-Jones Mascolo

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