COLLECTION: Drawings

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

1849
Origin: America, Rhode Island
Primary Support: 7 1/2 x 6in. (19.1 x 15.2cm) and Framed: 9 1/8 x 7 1/2 x 9/16in.
Watercolor and ink on wove paper
Gift of Juli Grainger
Acc. No. 2008.300.7
A full-length portrait of a little girl wearing pink 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 a pink-blooming plant to the right 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 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 2008.300.6. 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/2 yrs. old". No inscriptions were found on the back. No watermark was found on laid paper placed loosely between the primary support and the wooden backboard.