American Paintings and Sculpture
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Sarah Goodridge, American, 1788–1853

Lady with High Comb in Her Hair

ca. 1825

Watercolor on ivory

2 7/8 × 2 7/16 in. (7.3 × 6.2 cm)
Bequest of Bradford F. Swan, B.A. 1929

Little is known about the woman in this portrait, but her dark dress and suggestive necklace could indicate that she is mourning the loss of a loved one. The ribbon necklace tied around her neck likely holds a locket with a miniature portrait of someone she loved—perhaps a husband or child. While men and women generally wore black for a year after the death of a close family member, dark colors like purple and dark green could be worn in the second year, a period of “half mourning.” Dark jewelry and accessories such as this hair comb were typical (and fashionable) for mourning.

One of the leading miniaturists in Boston between 1820 and 1840, Sarah Goodridge painted an average of two miniatures a week to support herself and her family. Goodridge, the sixth of nine children, was raised in Templeton, Massachusetts. She was taught miniature painting by a Hartford, Connecticut, artist. By 1820 she had opened her own studio in Boston, where Gilbert Stuart became her mentor. She spent her life in the Boston area, leaving home only twice, for trips to Washington, D.C., in the winters of 1828 and 1841, probably at the invitation of Daniel Webster, a Massachusetts senator and later U.S. secretary of state, with whom she was intimate.

Made in United States
On view*
19th century
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.