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Girl with Rose Bush

ca. 1845
Origin: America, New Hampshire, Amherst
Unframed: 33 3/4 x 26in. (85.7 x 66cm) and Framed: 40 3/8 x 32 13/16in.
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mr. & Mrs. James Chester Flagg
Acc. No. 1941.100.6
A full-length portrait of a young child, believed a girl, standing in a landscape. At her feet, a small black dog stands on its hind legs, its forepaws resting on the edge of her dress. She wears a knee-length, medium-blue dress having a natural waistline; a low, square-cut, lace-trimmed neckline; and short, white-ruffled sleeves. She also wears long white pantaloons and black and gray shoes. A wide-brimmed, straw-colored hat with figured ribbon ties lays on the ground near her proper right foot in the lower left corner of the composition; it has a figured ribbon (or lace) sweatband lining only half of its inside. She has brown, shoulder-length hair, parted in the middle and hanging in curls at the ends. She has blue eyes and wears a necklace of very small gold-colored beads.

The girl stands beside a rose bush at the far right [viewer's] side of the composition and, in her proper right hand, she holds a rose sprig. With her proper left hand, she grasps another sprig still attached to the bush.
The girl stands near the bank of a body of water, which extends horizontally through the background, its far shore forming a horizon line a bit above vertical mid point, with a sparsely clouded sky above. On the far shore beyond the rose bush, distant white and light blue peaks suggest a mountain range.

l-length in landscape setting on riverbank with blurry blue river across canvas behind her, and low hills and low snowy mountains in distance to right behind her. Whisps of white clouds in sky. She wears a low square neck lined dress, blue, with short sleeves. There is a thin trim of lace at neckline and cuffs of sleeves. Waistline in middle, and full skirt. Solid white pantalettes visible below skirt with tiny lace trim at bottom, and low black shoes. She holds some strawberries in her left fist, and touches a delicate pink rose with her right hand. A blurry rosebush is visible to the left of the girl. A small black dog stands with his front feet resting on her knee. Her broad brimmed straw hat with its white ribbon with pink details rests on the ground to her right. A dead tree trunk is visible in mid distance next to river bank on left. She is chubby, wears a thin gold necklace, has a pug nose, round eyes, and brown hair parted in the middle with corkscrew ringlets.
Label:Only sparse information has been recorded regarding this painting, and past records have been muddied by various and uncertain readings of the inscription on the child's pant leg (see "Inscriptions"). Early researcher Nina Fletcher Little decipered the name written there as "S. Lawrence"; later readings have suggested "L. G." rather than "S."

But searches for a supposed "L. G. Lawrence" have yielded little. A "Lizzie G. Lawrence" was a member of the Amherst Musical Association in 1883, when a history of the town was published (see Secomb, "Bibliography"). Another potential fit, possibly the same woman, is Elizabeth Greeley Lawrence (b. 1831), the daughter of Aaron and Lucretia Claggett Lawrence of Amherst. Elizabeth Greeley Lawrence died unmarried. Women artists were relatively rare, however, and it seems a bit surprising that Lizzie might have signed a picture using the first initial of a nickname ("L" for "Lizzie" vs. "E" for "Elizabeth").

Artist's identity aside, the subject is charmingly presented, with an eager, affectionate puppy compositionally balancing the child's upturned hat in the lower left corner. The placid stretch of dull blue water in the background and the muted earth tones of the shorelines create a somber note that is alleviated by the color of the rose blooms and the airy, lightening effect of the bush's feathery foliage.

Provenance:Acquired in Sutton, NH, by James Chester Flagg of Marblehead, Mass., by whom given to CWF.
Inscription(s):Inscribed very faintly in [ink?] in the lower corner of the subject's proper left pantalette "L. G. Lawrence [A]mherst/N. H."