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: Unknown

Lady of the Sully Family

ca. 1844

Watercolor on ivory

1 7/8 × 1 1/2 in. (4.8 × 3.8 cm)
Lelia A. and John Hill Morgan, B.A. 1893, LL.B. 1896, M.A. (Hon.) 1929, Collection
The introduction of the daguerreotype to the United States in 1839 brought a new and exciting type of portrait that prompted dramatic changes to miniature painting. Miniaturists adapted to their clients’ altered expectations for capturing a likeness. This woman’s sharply defined image looks as though it could have been painted over a photograph, but technical examination of this object revealed only watercolor on ivory, with no traces of a photographic image beneath. The miniaturist’s process did not change, but rather his or her way of seeing was transformed. Perhaps the artist painted this portrait from a photograph rather than from life—or maybe photography had altered the way the artist interpreted life. The lid of this gold locket features the initials of the sitter or owner of the miniature, “MAS,” and a decorative arabesque design engraved into the surface. On the inside of the locket, behind the watercolor miniature on ivory, an inscription indicates that this case was made by George W. Webb of Baltimore in 1844, for a price of 25 dollars.
Made in United States
Not on view
19th century
Miniatures - Jewelry
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.