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Portrait of a Child, purportedly Mary Habersham (?-?)

1771-1772
Origin: America, Georgia, Savannah
Unframed: 30 1/8 x 25 1/8in. (76.5 x 63.8cm) and Framed: 36 1/2 x 31 1/4 x 2 1/2in. (92.7 x 79.4cm)
Oil on canvas, framed
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1993-163,A&B
A full-length portrait of a blonde, blue-eyed baby, presumably a girl, nude except for sheer drapery around her upper arms and across her lap and a double strand of coral beads around her neck. She is seated on a plump red velvet-looking cushion with gold trim and tassels, with her proper left leg crossed in front of her right. The cushion appears to float in the air. In her near (proper left) hand, she holds a single pink rose blossom, while her outstretched proper right hand drops eleven petals to the ground. Rose leaves lie on the ground near her feet. A gold tassel hangs from a dark blue-green drape that fills most of the (viewer's) righthand side of the picture. The remaining background is rendered in shades of brown.

The 3 1/4-inch molded, carved, and gold-painted "corner-and-center" frame is a modern reproduction that was on the painting when acquired.

Label:The identity of the child in this portrait is unknown, although she has been called Mary Habersham in the past. If that identity is correct, this painting may be one of the portraits referenced as “all my Family Pictures” in a letter from Governor James Habersham of Georgia to the artist in 1772.
Theus likely visited Georgia for the portrait sittings. He finished the paintings in Charlestown and then shipped them to Governor Habersham. The child’s pose was probably inspired by a print, quite possibly John Smith’s engraving after Sir Godfrey Kneller’s portrait of William Anne Keppel, 2nd Earl of Albemarle.











Provenance:To an unidentified Habersham descendant, Richmond, Va.; in 1988, bought from the preceding (along with Theus portraits of John Habersham and James Habersham, Jr. and two portraits of Alexander Telfair Habersham by other hands) by James A. Williams (d. 1990), Savannah, Ga.; to his sister, Dorothy Williams Kingery, Savannah, Ga.; to CWF.




Mark(s):A remnant of a label once affixed to the upper frame member reads, in mirror image: "This po . . . /25 [leav . . . ?]/English".

N. B. This label was not located on the frame nor in the object file 1/27/2011; its present whereabouts are uncertain. It is not known whether it is handwritten or press-printed.