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Woman in Profile

ca. 1815
Origin: America, Pennsylvania (probably)
Unframed: 9 x 7in. (22.9 x 17.8cm) and Framed: 11 1/2 x 9 1/4in.
Oil on yellow poplar panel
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1958.300.30
A half-length oval-format profile portrait of a woman facing right. The paint is very thinly applied. The sitter has hazel eyes. The subject's brownish hair is mostly hidden by a pink-ribboned white cap; one tendril falls over her forehead. She wears a blue, empire-waisted dress with a white lace bodice. The oval background is painted a solid gray-mauve, with only unfinished ground coat at the panel corners.

Artist unidentified.

The 1 1/4-inch molded frame, probably a period replacement, has been finished with gold paint textured with sand and touched up with gold paint; it has a wire hanging ring clinched into the center top, and its glass has reverse, black-painted spandrels with a gold vinelike design framing the oval aperture.
Label:Five of the other small-scale, half-length profiles on wood panels that have been attributed to this unidentified artist are of Pennsylvania origin. Typically, the faces are thinly and very precisely painted, while lace edgings and highlights of the sitters' costumes are rendered by distinctive squiggles of thick, wet paint. These frequently suggest fabric folds, but here even the ungathered lower portion of the subject's sleeve is given this nervous surface treatment.

Several images, including this one, have eye pupils painted as full circles, giving a startled or frightened appearance. Others also show the carefully depicted vertical ridge between upper lip and nose, which would not actually be seen in profile. Some type of spandreled frame or eglomise mat was obviously intended for this likeness because the corners of the panel support are only covered by greenish-buff ground coat, and the painted oval has a ragged, irregular edge The upper right corner bears test patches of red, pink, white, black, and gray pigment now hidden by the painted glass.

A group of five portraits of Peffer family members appears stylistically related; one of those bears an inscription reading "This Group of portraits taken by Mr. Boyd in Harrisburg," raising the possibility that the artist of the Folk Art Museum's picture was a "Mr. Boyd."
Provenance:J. Stuart Halladay and Herrel George Thomas, Sheffield, Mass. Halladay died in 1951, leaving his interest in their jointly-owned collection to his partner, Thomas. Thomas died in 1957, leaving his estate to his sister, Mrs. Albert N. Petterson, who was AARFAM's vendor.