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Child Holding Rattle

ca. 1838
Origin: America, Massachusetts, Lee (probably)
Unframed: 34 3/4 x 25 1/2in. (88.3 x 64.8cm) and Framed: 40 1/4 x 30 3/4in.
Oil on canvas
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Acc. No. 1931.100.4
A full-length portrait of a small child standing on a decoratively painted floor, stenciled floor cloth, or carpet. On the floor, a prone gray cat peeps from behind the child's dress, only its head, chest, and forepaws exposed to view. The child holds a woven straw rattle in his/her proper right hand, which is raised to waist-level. With his/her proper left hand, the child steadies himself/herself on the edge of a rush-seated, Hitchcock-type chair, which is only partially visible towards the viwer's right. The child wears a white dress with short, puffed sleeves and a low, squarish neckline, the bottoms of the sleeves and hem trimmed with eyelet. It is gathered over the bodice and has tucks above the hem. The waistline is accented with a pink belt decorated with interlocking oval shapes. The child has short blonde hair that shows no part and wears white stockings and black shoes. The floor or floor covering on which the child stands is yellow with abstract designs of green, blue, and red.
The 3 1/4-inch mahogany-veneered cyma recta frame with a gilded liner is a period replacement.
Label:Although long called a "girl," the sex of this child is actually uncertain. Costume historians point out that pink was not used to denote females until the twentieth century and, during some periods, pink was even considered a "masculine" color.
A portrait of a boy in blue also owned by CWF (acc. no. 1931.100.3) has long been thought to represent this child's older brother. This, too, is uncertain, although the two paintings share a long history and are closely compositionally linked by the same colorful floor or floor covering.

Provenance:Found in Bridgeport, Conn., by Edith Gregor Halpert, Downtown Gallery, New York, NY; purchased from Halpert by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller 30 October 1931 and given to CWF in 1939.