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Portrait of Thryphone Morrow (?-?)

ca. 1800
Origin: America, Virginia, prob Jefferson County (n. 1)
Unframed: 28 1/8" x 25 1/8" and Framed: 31 3/8" x 28 7/16"
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1957.100.13
A bust-to-half-length portrait of a young woman turned slightly towards the viewer's right, her lower arms and hands not shown, the figure set within feigned, black-painted spandrels, with a pulled red drape running diagonally from upper right to lower left behind her. She wears a low-necked blue gown that is gathered immediately below the bust and tied with a darker blue cord terminating in gold tassels, the gown's neckline and elbow-length sleeves being trimmed with lace.

She wears a double strand pearl chocker around her neck. A blue ribbon twined with pearls dresses her brown, shoulder-length, curling hair. Her near (only visible) ear displays a dangling gold earring with pearl drops. She has pale blue eyes.

The 2 1/8-inch black-painted molded frame has a gilt liner and is possibly original.

Label:In 1776, Charles Peale Polk joined the household of his famous uncle, Charles Willson Peale (1741- 1827), and there he learned to paint portraits alongside a number of first cousins. He never achieved the success or renown of his better known relatives, and occasional forays into other lines of business suggest that he derived an inadequate livelihood from portraiture. Nevertheless, his likenesses clearly illustrate his uncle's influence and, today, are avidly sought in their own right. Stylistic characteristics shared by uncle and nephew include strong facial lighting, exaggeratedly oval shaping of heads, and alert, expressive eyes. Both painters inclined to intense, saturated color, but Polk much more so than Peale.

Polk launched his career as a portraitist in Baltimore in 1785 and, later, worked in western Maryland, northern Virginia, and Philadelphia. By 1818 he was employed as a government clerk in Washington, D.C. When he died in 1822, he was living in Richmond County, Virginia.

The artist rendered a series of four portraits believed to represent a couple and their two daughters (the other acc. nos. are 1957.100.11, 1957.100.12, and 1957.100.14). Identities of the foursome as Amos and Matilda Morrow with daughters Thryphone and Thryphose are based on family tradition (see "Provenance"), but efforts to verify the names have not been successful to date. The girls' first names appear to derive from biblical ones (see Romans 16:12). The Morrows are thought to have moved to Jefferson County (now in West Virginia) from southeast Virginia.

The daughters' portraits and a 1799 Polk portrait of Juliet White are similar in composition and style, suggesting all three were done about the same time. Juliet White lived in Winchester, Virginia, not far from Jefferson County, so proximity underlines the likelihood.
Provenance:Notes now in the archives of the Maryland Historical Society and originally made by historian J. Hall Pleasants about 1955, based on entries in a Worthington family bible, provide the basics for the following line of descent which, however, contains some gaps and has not yet been verified:

from the subject's parents to their granddaughter, Sarah Burch Morrow Worthington (Mrs. Robert Worthington)(1786-1821); to her daughter, Sarah Worthington Hawks (Mrs. Wells Joseph Hawks); to her husband, Wells Joseph Hawks (1814-1873); to his son (by his previous marriage to Sarah Smith), Arthur Wells Hawks (1848-1933); to his son, Arthur Worthington Hawks (1878-1949); to his wife, Rachel Marshall Hawks (Mrs. Arthur Worthington Hawks)(d. 1964); to dealer Robert Carlen, Philadelphia, Pa; M. Knoedler & Co., New York, NY, which was CWF's source.