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Portrait of Elizabeth Riddick Carr (Mrs. Samuel Carr)(1741-1793)

1774
Origin: America, Virginia, Suffolk (probably)
Unframed: 30 1/4" x 25" and Framed: 31" x 26 1/8" x 7/8"
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1978-82,A&B
A half-length portrait of a young, blue-eyed woman turned one-quarter to the viewer's left, her far arm extending downward out of the picture plane, her near arm bent at the elbow and raised to show her hand holding a spray of roses. Her dress is blue and of a shimmering fabric (probably satin) with vertical rows of ruching down the front and elbow-length sleeves; it is augmented by white lace collar and cuffs, and a floral spray is tucked in her bodice. On her dark, pulled-back hair, she wears a white cap with a white jewel or other ornament attached at the center. She wears white (pearl?) earrings and a three-strand pear choker tied with a ribbon at the back of her neck. The background is a plain brown and ranges tonally from dark at the sides and top to greatly lightened around the sitter's face.
The 13/16-inch cyma recta molded black-painted frame may have been made for this picture but is believed to be a replacement that dates to about 1830-1850. See furniture conservator Chris Swan's report of 8/10/2011 regarding its age. A fragment of the frame was microscopically identified as Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron) in 1994.
Label:Colonial Williamsburg's companion portraits of Samuel and Elizabeth Carr typify Durand's most straightforward compositions. Their half-length formats, space-filling images, and plain backgrounds combine with the sitters' direct, level gazes to create a forthright, pared down look that would have been quite modish at the time. Philosophically, it also expressed the sentiments of growing numbers of colonists who favored substance over show. The simple, narrow moldings of the original frames contribute to an overall effect of tasteful restraint.

Samuel Carr (1746-1777) was a captain in the marines at the time of his death, which service in the Revolutionary War may have precipitated. Elizabeth Riddick Carr descended from an established Nansemond County family. Ten years after Samuel's death, she married the widower of her sister Theresa, Col. Robert Moore Riddick (1744-1804).
Provenance:From the sitter to her daughter, Mrs. Joseph Prentis, Jr. (Susan Caroline Riddick)(1791-1862); to her daughter, Mrs. Robert Henning Webb (Margaret Susan Prentis)(1810-1882); to her son, Joseph Prentis Webb (1843-1892); to his widow, Mrs. Joseph Prentis Webb (Annie Jordan Darden)(1858-1945) of Suffolk, Va.; to her son, Robert Henning Webb II (1882-?); to his widow, Mrs. Robert Henning Webb II (Blance Farrington Miller)(1889-?), who was CWF's source. Acquisition negotiations were with Mrs. Blanche M. Webb's son, Joseph Prentis Webb II (b. 1913).
Mark(s):A press-printed, rectangular, water-adhesive label with perforated sides is adhered on the back of the top member of the frame; it reads "No. 38776/FRAME," the numbers in red and the letters in black. The origin of the label has not yet been determined.
Inscription(s):A painted inscription on the back of the lining canvas presumably was added by an earlier conservator to replicate an original inscription on the primary support: "Elizabeth Carr./aged 26 A.D. 1774/John Durand. painted".