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American Paintings and Sculpture
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Nathaniel Rogers, American, 1788–1844
Subject: Harriet Lynde Walter Hunter, American, 1790–1868

Harriet Lynde Walter Hunter (1790–1868)

ca. 1825

Watercolor and graphite pencil on ivory

3 1/2 × 2 11/16 in. (8.9 × 6.8 cm)
Lelia A. and John Hill Morgan, B.A. 1893, LL.B. 1896, M.A. (Hon.) 1929, Collection
1940.519

This miniature depicts Harriet Lynde Walter, the daughter of a pastor of Christ’s Church in Boston. In 1816, Harriet married the Philadelphia native Captain William M. Hunter, who was stationed as a naval lieutenant in Boston. At some point during the captain’s thirty-eight-year career in the United States Navy, the couple moved to Philadelphia. On the reverse, a decorative lock of hair, probably belonging to the sitter, may have served as a keepsake for her husband, who spent many years of their marriage at sea commanding voyages to places as far-flung as the Mediterranean. It was custom for sailors and their wives or lovers to exchange tokens of love before circumstances forced them apart. A number of artifacts associated with Hunter’s years as a naval officer were found among his possessions upon his death in 1849, suggesting that he would have cherished such tangible remembrances as this lock of his wife’s hair. Curiously, Hunter’s obituary does not mention his wife.

Artist Nathaniel Rogers was born in Long Island, New York, and came to practice the art of miniature painting by chance. The eldest son of a farmer, he was just beginning an apprenticeship to a shipbuilder when a knee injury rendered him unfit for the trade. It was during his convalescence that Rogers began to copy prints and make miniatures. He first worked in Connecticut, and around 1806, he went to New York City, where he was apprenticed to the miniaturist Joseph Wood. When Wood moved to Philadelphia in 1813, Rogers took over his practice in New York City and became one of the most fashionable and prolific miniaturists of his generation. A founder, associate, and academician of the National Academy of Design, Rogers exhibited regularly at the N.A.D. as well as the American Academy of the Fine Arts until the early 1830s.

Geography: 
Made in United States
Status: 
Not on view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Miniatures - Jewelry
Provenance: 

YUAG receipt for miniatures received from Mrs. John Hill Morgan, Oct. 18, 1940, has pencil notation "Hewitt 880" next to this object. Does this refer to 1936 sale of Erskine Hewitt collection?

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.