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Girl in Rocking Chair

ca. 1845
Origin: America, Massachusetts, Boston (probably)
Unframed: 27 1/8 x 22in. (68.9 x 55.9cm) and Framed: 33 15/16 x 28 3/4 x 1 3/4in.
oil on canvas
Gift of Juli Grainger
Acc. No. 2008.100.4
A full-length portrait of a young girl, seated in a painted, child-sized rocking chair, and holding an apple in her proper left hand. She wears a short-sleeved pink dress with a pointed waist and decorative banding at the hemline and sleeves. Fringe hangs from each sleeve. She also wears variegated pink stockings, white pantaloons, and black shoes. She has blue eyes and dark brown shoulder-length hair, parted in the middle and pulled back behind her ears. Her proper left elbow rests on the arm of the rocking chair. No other accessories or furnishings appear in the space; the background is a warm brown, darker at the bottom and lighter at the top suggesting a a floor and a wall.

The 3 3/4-inch silver-gilt frame is a replacement that probably dates to ca. 1900.
Label:Sturtevant J. Hamblin and William Matthew Prior were brothers-in-law. Close ties between the two can be documented biographically, including a few years in the 1840s when they shared an address, and artistically, their styles bear many similarities. In this case, the length and curvature of this girl's fingers are among the clues supportive of a Hamblin attribution.

The painting was rapidly but not hastily or carelessly executed. Hamblin made every brushstroke count, capturing the nuances of pose and expression with deftness and facility. The girl twists slightly (and realistically) in her seat, extending the tip of her far foot to the very edge of the canvas. Yet Hamblin skilfully positioned her torso so that her head remained centered, adding emphasis to her steady, head-on gaze. The youngster's variegated stockings, the fringed trim on her sleeves, and her decorated, child-sized rocking chair are details of special interest, while the cuff of her pantaloon is displayed with playful sauciness.
Provenance:David Pottinger (dealer), Goshen, Ind.; Barbara Pollack, Highland Park, Ill.; Juli Grainger, Winnetka, Ill.