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Unidentified Child

1770-1775
Origin: America, Maryland
Unframed: 30 x 25in. (76.2 x 63.5cm) and Framed: 35 1/2 x 30 3/4in.
Oil on canvas
Gift of the John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, Fund, Inc., through the generosity and interest of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, 3rd, and members of the family.
Acc. No. 1979.100.2,A&B
The gesso and gilt decorated frame is a late nineteenth-century replacement.
Label:An early history identified the child in this painting as Anna Peale, presumably a relative of the artist, although there were no girls of that name in the painter’s family until well after 1775. The only other Peale child that might be considered was Charles Willson Peale’s son James Willson, born in 1767. The 1770–1775 date range assigned to this work is based on the close relationship between this picture and another child’s portrait that the artist signed and dated 1771 in Chestertown, Maryland.
The earliest record of James Peale’s painting is documented in a 1771 letter: James “copies well and has painted a little from life.” It was during these years when, after returning from England, Charles Willson taught his brother James to paint. James’s earliest portraits are rare and this example is thought to be one of two children’s likenesses assigned to him. The style and quality of the two portraits bear no resemblance to James’s mature style.
Provenance:Purchased from Edith Gregor Halpert, Downtown Gallery, New York, N.Y., December 28, 1935, for use at Bassett Hall, Williamsburg home of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Given to the C.W.F. in 1979.
Mark(s):None found
Inscription(s):None found