COLLECTION: Drawings

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Pair of Unidentified Sitters

1844
Origin: America, New York, Penn Yan
Her Primary Support: 3 1/4 x 2 3/4in. (8.3 x 7cm); Her pictorial composition: 2 15/16 x 2 7/16in. (7.5 x 6.2cm); His Primary Support: 3 1/8 x 2 3/4in. (7.9 x 7cm);His pictorial composition: 2 15/16 x 2 7/16in. (7.5 x 6.2cm); and Framed: 4 15/16 x 7 1/8 x 1/2in.
Watercolor, pencil, and ink on wove cardstock
Gift of Juli Grainger
Acc. No. 2008.300.8
Waist-length profile portraits of a man and woman executed on separated primary supports but framed together, facing one another. Each centers the image within black-painted spandrels, with small margins of the primary support left unpainted all around. (Penciled inscriptions appear in the upper margins of both, while a hand-lettered block-lettered ink inscription appears below hers). Both subjects sit in grain-painted side chairs. He faces right, she left. Both have dark brown hair. He wears a black coat and black waistcoat with a white shirt, she a black dress with a finely detailed white lace collar. He wears side and chin whiskers. Her hair is drawn back to the nape of her neck. The backgrounds are a pale blue.
The 15/16-inch splayed mahogany frame may be original and has a brass hanging ring affixed to the center top.
Label:Justus Da Lee (1793-1878) has long been associated with crisp profiles of this type, but in 2004, independent researchers Suzanne and Michael Payne revealed that the artist often worked collaboratively with his brother, Richard W. M. Da Lee (1809-1868), and with his son, Amon G. J. Da Lee (1820-1879). Richard and Amon also worked independently of Justus ---- and in such similar styles that usually it is impossible to distinguish the three hands without inscriptions naming the artist(s).
The date and Penn Yan location inscribed on this pair seem to narrow the possibilities to either Justus or Amon or the two together, since father and son were living in Pittsford, New York, at or about the time these profiles were executed, whereas Richard seems to have been located elsewhere. Pittsford is within a 60-mile radius of Penn Yan.
Provenance:Frank and Barbara Pollack, Highland Park, Ill. (per July 1980 ad in Antiques); thence [directly?] to CWF's source, Juli Grainger.
Inscription(s):In the lower margin beneath her image in black ink in block letters is: "Taken at Penn Yan Oct. 25. 1844."
Two words in pencil in script appear in the upper margin above each image; these words appear to be proper names, possibly the same first and last names, but their spelling is very uncertain. The first name might be "Emily"? The last name looks a bit like Lulls, Wells, Luella, Tuella, or Yosella [none of which make sense].
No inscriptions appear on the backs of the primary supports.