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Baby in Rose Dress

Probably 1850-1855
Origin: America, Maryland, Baltimore (probably)
Unframed: 27 x 23 1/8in. (68.6 x 58.7cm) and Framed: 31 7/16 x 27 1/2in.
Oil on canvas
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Acc. No. 1931.100.7
A full-length portrait of a child seated on a green-upholstered, balloon-backed chair. The child's legs are stuck out in front, the proper left arm bent at the elbow and raised above waist level; this hand has two rings on the fourth finger. The child wears an off-the-shoulder, long-waisted, rose-colored dress whose short, white-trimmed sleeves are gathered and clasped with sleeve bracelets. The child's brown hair is parted in the middle, and the eyes are blue. Around the child's neck is a three strand coral necklace with a circular clasp. White stockings and black shoes, laced at the instep, complete the ensemble. The background is brown.
The 2 1/2-inch cove-molded gilded frame with a quarter round outer edge is a modern replacement.

Label:Limp, splayed legs and chubby, shapeless arms suggest that the subject was two to four years of age. Pink and blue did not signify children's sexes during this period, but a proliferation of jewelry and, especially, a center hair part identify the toddler as a girl. The segments of her necklace may have been pieces of red and white coral, a material widely used for children's adornments and accessories through much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The youngster's rose-colored dress contrasts nicely with the dark green upholstery of her balloon-backed side chair.

William Kennedy's style of painting shares similarities with that of William Matthew Prior and, indeed, at one time in Baltimore, the two worked only a few doors apart. Kennedy tended to exaggerate the shading around sitters' noses, which might explain the feature's red, bulbous appearance in this likeness.
Provenance:Found in Baltimore, Md., by Edith Gregor Halpert, Downtown Gallery, New York, NY; purchased from Halpert by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller 22 May 1931 and given to CWF in 1939.