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Girl Seated on Bench

Origin: America, New England (probably)
Unframed: 26 x 22in. (66 x 55.9cm) and Framed: 31 1/2 x 27 5/8 x 2 1/4in.
Oil on canvas
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Acc. No. 1931.100.6
A full-length portrait of a young girl seated on a bench. She wears a blue dress with a "V" shaped bodice, white trim at the low neckline, and elbow-length sleeves. She also wears a double strand of blue beads. Her brown hair is parted in the middle, combed flat on the crown of her head, and tucked behind her ears, with ringlets falling behind her ears. She has grey eyes. She wears black shoes, white stockings, and white pantelets with zig-zag lower edges. She sits on a bench having a scrolled arm, a solid crest, and an upholstered (?) back and seat. The crest appeaers to be grain-painted. The background is light grey, the floor a darker grey. There is a brown column in the right background and a swagged, black-and-red shaded drapery with a red and yellow cord in the left background. On her lap, the girl holds a book that is depicted in shades of red and brown with yellow pinstriping on the binding. Artist unidentified.

The 3-inch cove molded gilded frame with quarter-round outer edge is probably original.
Label:This colorful, minimally-modeled picture characterizes a style that many modern-day viewers associate especially closely with early American folk portraiture. In fact, the painting played an important role in the twentieth-century rediscovery of American folk art. Pioneering collector Robert Laurent bought it at auction in Maine in 1924 and loaned it to the nation's first large-scale exhibition of folk paintings: "American Primitives" at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, 1930-1931. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller fell in love with the picture when she first saw it in Laurent's home in Brooklyn, New York, but he refused to part with it. Later, dealer Edith Gregor Halpert succeeded in acquiring it on Rockefeller's behalf.

The painting bears some stylistic similarities to portraits created by William Matthew Prior (1806-1873), Sturtevant Hamblin (active 1837-1856), William Kennedy (1818-after 1870), and others, but it has not yet been connected to any specific hand.

Provenance:Bought at an auction in Maine in 1924 by Robert Laurent of Oqunquit, Me., and Brooklyn, NY; Edith Gregor Halpert, New York, NY; purchased from Halpert by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller in 1932; given by the latter to CWF.