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Portrait of Paulina Dorr [later, Mrs. Martin Harder](1802-1844)

1814-1815
Origin: America, New York, Columbia County
Unframed: 21 7/8 x 28in. (55.6 x 71.1cm) and Framed: 32 x 26in.
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1979.100.7
A half-length portrait of a seated girl turned 3/4 to the right, her proper left elbow resting on a pedestal-based table or candlestand, her two hands supporting a book held at an angle in her lap. She wears a pale blue capped-sleeve dress that is gathered just beneath the bust. Her pale, brownish-blonde hair is gathered at the back of her head, with long tendrils falling to either side of her face. Two combs are prominent in her hair, one just above her proper left eye. She sits in a green-painted arrowback Windsor chair decorated with gold, red, and black striping and botanical elements. The background of the portrait is an overall pale grey-mauve.
The 2 1/2-inch scoop-molded frame is original; it is painted black with a quarter-round outer molding that is painted gold.
Label:The mauve gray backgrounds of the Dorr family portraits vary slightly in hue, with Paulina's perhaps being the closest to a pale lavender. Subtle interplay between the background coloration, the light green base coat of her stenciled chair, and her pale blue dress superbly complements the young girl's fair skin and thinly painted hair. It also emphasizes the depths of her dark brown almond-shaped eyes. Phillips's pastel coloration seems particularly suited to capturing the fragile and delicate beauty of this adolescent girl.
Paulina was the eldest child of Russell and Polsapianna Bull Dorr of Chatham Center, Columbia County, New York. She was born July 15, 1802, and on October 14, 1828, married Martin Harder (1783-1843), a wealthy Ghent, New York, farmer. Portraits of her parents- in-law, painted by Phillips about 1820, are also owned by Colonial Williamsburg. Paulina died on May 21, 1844, within five months of her husband. Their only child, Henrietta P. (1835-1842), is believed by a family genealogist to have been adopted. All three are buried in the Chatham cemetery, where they share a common marker with Henrietta Dorr Phelps, Paulina's younger sister who died in 1853.
Provenance:Acquired from the estate of a great-niece of the subject, Mrs. Neilson T. Parker (Zulma Steele) of Woodstock, NY. [Mrs. Parker was a granddaughter of the subject's brother Seneca Milo Dorr (1820-1884)].