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Child in Yellow Dress with Grey Cat

ca. 1835
Origin: America
Unframed: 28 1/2 x 24in. (72.4 x 61cm) and Framed: 33 5/8 x 29 1/4in.
Oil on canvas
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Acc. No. 1936.100.12
A full-length portrait of a child standing beside a grey cat seated on the floor. The child's sex is uncertain, but his/her side hair part suggests a boy. The child's proper left hand rests atop the cat's head. The child's proper right hand rests on the crest of an adjacent armchair that the youngster appears to tip slightly backwards. Child and cat seem to be shown in a room, judging by the horizontal line to the viewer's right that distinguishes a grayish "floor" from a warmer brown "wall." The child has pale blue eyes and blonde hair and wears a yellow dress having short, puffed sleeves. The sleeves are edged at shoulders and elbows with a sheer lace ruffle. The bodice and sleeves of the dress are ornamented with floral designs, and two dark green serpentine lines bordered by dots run down most of the length of the skirt in front. A black line [tuck?] circles the dress a few inches above the hem. The child wears black slippers secured with ribbon ties at the ankles.

A roughly circular area behind the child's head that is lighter and redder than the surrounding background has never been fully explained. See "Curatorial Remarks" for more information.

Artist unidentified.

The 3-inch molded gilt frame is a period replacement.


Label:Technical examination of this painting provides information about the artist’s working process that is invisible to the naked eye. X-ray analysis uncovers a number of design changes to the canvas. For example, study of the child’s proper right side shows how the artist shifted the placement of the child’s hand. Such alterations to a composition were common as the artist finessed the details of his or her work. Today’s technologies help us to better understand decisions the artist made while creating this portrait. These clues may someday provide evidence that will aid in identifying the artist and the child.
Provenance:Edith Gregor Halpert, Downtown Gallery, New York, NY; purchased from Halpert by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, by whom given to CWF.