COLLECTION: Paintings

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Woman with Fan

1830
Origin: America, Connecticut
Primary Support: 21 1/2 x 17 3/4in. (54.6 x 45.1cm) and Framed: 26 1/2 x 23 x 2 5/8in.
Watercolor, graphite, and gilt on wove paper
Bequest of Eleanor M. Gordon
Acc. No. 2005.300.3
A half-length portrait of a seated woman who is turned three-quarters to the right. She holds an opened fan before her, but her hands are not shown. She wears a black dress with a white ruffled collar and a large white ruffled cap decorated with pink ribbons. Her hair and eyes are dark brown. The background is an overall blue wash, and separate, inscribed pieces of paper are adhered in the upper corners of the composition. The primary support is pieced out along the left edge; two narrow strips, one above the other, widen the composition.
The frame in which the portrait was received in August 2005 is a modern replacement, a 2 5/8-inch scoop molded natural pine frame with gilded liner.
Label:This portrait and its companion are Horace Rockwell's only known surviving works on paper. (His only other recorded work on paper---a miniature portrait of Lucien P. Ferry---was destroyed in the 1920s and is known only from a photogravure illustration of it).
The 1830 pair are also the earliest recorded examples of Rockwell's work and are assumed to have been executed in Connecticut, which is where Rockwell's wife was born. (He may have lived there for a time, as well). But little is known of the artist's life there and in New York and Pennsylvania prior to his immigration to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1836 or 1837. Most of his recorded paintings were done in Indiana.
Provenance:This portrait and its companion (2005.300.2) were delivered to CWF 8/29/2005 by Franics ("Frank") Lobdell Reynolds, Jr., brother of CWF's source/bequeather, Mrs. Clifford Gordon (nee Eleanor Margaret Reynolds)(1926-2005). Upon delivery, Frank Reynolds relayed the following oral history on the portraits:
The portraits were found, rolled up and stored in a trunk, in a barn on property occupied by Reynolds's father, Francis Lobdell Reynolds, Sr. (1896-1968), the property being located on Ridgebury Road in Ridgebury, Connecticut. Although the property had long been in the family, the house there was only built ca. 1885. Reynolds, Jr., speculates that ancestor John Lobdell and his wife were the first family members to occupy the property. Only when the Ridgebury proprty was sold about 1937 were the portraits discovered. They were then moved to Reynolds, Sr.'s new home in Stratford, Connecticut.
When Reynolds, Sr., moved to Florida about 1960, the two portraits were acquired by his daughter, Eleanor Margaret Reynolds Gordon, CWF's source. N. B. Reynolds, Jr., noted that, at the time of this move, many family papers were burned by a well-intentioned but misguided sister of his father's.
It is not clear whether the two portraits were framed prior to 1990, when they were placed in the modern frames in which they were acquired, according to modern inscriptions on the dust covers.
Inscription(s):On a small, separate piece of paper adhered to the upper left corner of the front of the primary support, in script in watercolor or thin bluish-gray ink, is, "Decr 22, 1830".
Similarly inscribed on another separate piece of paper adhered to the upper right corner is, "Aged 29 years."
A modern inscription on the paper dust cover on the back reads, "This portrait has been refit & surface cleaned (dusted only) on 8/6/90/The glass used is museum glass by True Vue (TM)/It is 100% ultraviolet filtering & is optically/coated to reduce glare. An acrylic spacer/has been incorporated to separate art from/glass/Peter Miller CPF/Beaux Arts Gallery".