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Portrait of Ellen Augusta Smith (b. ca. 1847)

1849
Origin: America, Rhode Island
Primary Support: 7 9/16 x 6 1/16in. (19.2 x 15.4cm) and Framed: 9 x 7 9/16 x 9/16in.
Watercolor and ink on wove paper
Gift of Juli Grainger
Acc. No. 2008.300.6
A full-length portrait of a little girl wearing black shoes, a necklace, white pantaloons, and a pink, off-the-shoulder dress with brown dots on it, the sleeves about elbow length. Her brown hair is parted in the middle and tucked back behind her ears. She holds a flower bloom in front of her and stands nearly full front to the viewer on a ground of grass and foliage with two pink, blooming carnation-like plants to the left of her figure, nearly as tall as she is. There is an inscription in the lower margin.
The 1/2-inch reeded, black-painted frame is probably a period replacement, and it has the modern of a black-painted screw eye substituting for a brass hanging ring at center top.
Label:Surprisingly, the artist executed two very similar portraits that apparently show the same child at the same age: this one and 2008.300.7. Were two portraits perhaps made for different branches of the family? Once the facts of Ellen Augusta Smith's life are more fully documented, perhaps a rationale will become evident. Little Ellen may have been a relation of the artist's, since Jane Anthony Davis had ties to various Smiths in Rhode Island.
Davis is well known for quickly rendered full-face watercolor portraits, her children often done full-length.
Provenance:Acquired by CWF's source, Juli Grainger, from Barbara Pollack, Highland Park, Ill., 1 February 1985.
Mark(s):No watermark noted.
Inscription(s):In black ink in flourished, forward-slanting script in the lower margin is: "Ellen Augusta Smith/Aged 2 Years . . . . 1849". No inscriptions were found on the back. No watermarks were found on the two sheets of laid paper placed loosely between the primary support and the wooden backboard, although one of these sheets should be examined more closely.