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Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Sex, Lies and Miniature Portraits

For those interested in seeing some of my other research and historical articles, I invite you to visit my companion blog:

Michael's Museum

The history of fine art is peppered with drama, intrigue, and even sexual innuendo — sometimes at the hands of artists, sometimes at the hands of larger-than-life collectors and sometimes at the hands of thieves and scoundrels. The world of miniature portraits is no exception; and we feature today two rare miniatures that have emerged from a world of drama and intrigue that easily inspires a captivating novel or movie script.

Imagine an opening scene in Rome, for example, where a refined Italian man, a wealthy art collector, is studying a miniature portrait under a magnifying glass while bombs go off overhead or German troops march in the streets below. Imagine this same man then in Germany, meeting with Adolph Hitler and, later that same evening, upon returning to his posh Berlin hotel suite, being met at his door by an attractive young man, a German art dealer who has…

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Returning after a Long Absence

The time has come to check in with my readers after a long absence from my blog.

Much of my time and energy over the past year was spent on helping care for my father who had been in declining health. Sadly, he did not win his fight and, in the wee hours of Christmas night past, he departed this world en route to the next.

At my father’s side throughout his entire struggle, my life has been forever changed by the things I witnessed. The expressions on his face during his last hours, in particular, have been deeply seared into my memory. Those haunting expressions also conjured in my mind some unexpected visions of generations past. That is to say, I saw the faces of dying ancestors quickly cycling through my mind, much like flipping through a deck of cards. The happy portraits of them in family photo albums were quickly replaced with visions of how I imagined they might have looked, like my father, on their deathbeds. I saw the same tired and longing expressions; and I saw on those gathered around them the same tears and faces of sadness that I myself had. It occurred to me, too, that my father’s expressions will someday be on my own face, when the deck of cards finally cycles to me. This is the lot of humanity, after all, despite our wishes that it might be otherwise.


My father’s departure has left a huge hole in my heart. Such was our relationship. We were best friends. We were soul mates. To be sure, there are some who would find it strange to think of a father and son as soul mates, but that definition truly is the best description of our relationship. I believe I understood my father better than anyone else did and, likewise, he understood me like no other. We understood each other’s thoughts; we shared each other’s values; and we vigorously defended each other’s interests.

To the point of this blog, my father has always been (and will forever continue to be) the biggest inspiration behind my genealogy work. No, he himself was not a genealogist; but he was, nonetheless, passionate about his (our) family’s history and culture. In fact, many of my fondest memories of childhood are of conversations with my father as he recounted tales of the Tormeys, McDivits, Heuislers, Hartmans and Creys of our past. And many of my fondest memories as an adult are of the excitement and pleasure my father had upon learning the results of my research. He loved his family; he loved his family’s admirable past; and he loved learning about the lives and the hopes and fears of his forebears. To the end, he intimately cherished the legacy that was passed to him; and, as he departed this world, he left a noble legacy of his own.

My father’s name was Joseph Heuisler Tormey, Jr. He may be gone in body; but his spirit remains lager than life. And he will forever remain the inspiration behind my research and writing.

I will close with two simple words: pax vobiscum (Latin for “peace be with you”). My Dad cherished his Jesuit upbringing and he embraced the sentiment behind that simple yet complex Latin phrase.

Pax vobiscum, my dear readers. May peace be with you. And may you, too, be blessed with the love and passion that Joseph Tormey had for his family… a legacy worth honoring and preserving for generations to come.