COLLECTION: Paintings

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Unidentified Baby

ca. 1840
Origin: America, New Hampshire, Dover (possibly)
Unframed: 26 x 21in. (66 x 53.3cm) and Framed (depth is for frame only): 29 1/4 x 24 3/4 x 1 3/4in.
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1999.100.1
Portrait of a baby seated in a black background. The baby is dressed in a white gown, lace-trimmed around neckline, sleeves, and hem. The baby holds a green glass bottle and a sprig of flowers.

Artist unidentified.
Label:This young subject probably sat on the floor when painted. The artist, however, provided no reference to the surfaces beneath and behind the child, who thus seems to float in space. The unintended effect no doubt enchanted Robert Laurent (1890-1970), the modernist sculptor and folk art collector who found the painting in Dover, New Hamsphire, in the 1920s.
The painting was hanging on Laurent's living room wall when modern art dealer Edith Gregor Halpert came to visit in 1926. Halpert was so impressed by the folk art collections assembled by Laurent and other contemporary artists who summered and worked at Ogunquit, Maine, that she began mixing folk and modern pieces in her Downtown Gallery in New York City. Shortly afterwards, she opened her American Folk Art Gallery on the same premises. In 1931, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller (1874-1948) became a steady client, acquiring from Halpert many of the pieces that ultimately formed the personal assemblage of American folk art she gave to Colonial Williamsburg in 1939.
Provenance:"Long before" 1954, the painting was found in Dover, NH, and acquired thence by Robert (d. 1970) and Mimi Laurent of Ogunquit, Me.; in 1970, to John and Nancy Laurent; in 1989, to Nancy Flentje (formerly, Mrs. John Laurent); to dealer Stephen Score; to dealer David A. Schorsch; in 1999, to Northeast Auctions, whence purchased by AARFAM.