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American Paintings and Sculpture
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Joseph Dunkerley, American, born England, active 1776–87, died 1806
After: John Singleton Copley, American, 1738–1815
Subject: Elizabeth Green Storer, American, 1734–1774

Elizabeth Green Storer (1734–1774)

1785

Watercolor on ivory

1 3/16 × 1 1/16 in. (3 × 2.7 cm)
John Hill Morgan, B.A. 1893, LL.B. 1896, M.A. (Hon.) 1929, Fund
1949.97

Elizabeth Green, the daughter of Anna Pierce and Joseph Green, married Ebenezer Storer II, a prosperous Boston merchant, in 1751. Elizabeth died in 1774 at age forty-one, after nearly a quarter-century of marriage to Ebenezer. Her obituary lamented, “Those who knew her the most intimately, loved her the most sincerely. If she had a Fault, it was a too tender Heart, and too great a fondness for her Friends, which must make their Loss the more painful.”

Joseph Dunkerley painted this miniature as half of a marital pair, copying the likenesses of Mr. and Mrs. Storer after pastels by John Singleton Copley. Painted twenty years earlier, Copley’s pastel portraits hung in the family’s Boston mansion, which Ebenezer was forced to sell in 1788 after his business suffered during the Revolutionary War. These tokens, probably commissioned by one of the couple’s three children, recalled a time of greater stability, before the Revolution and before Elizabeth’s death.

Housed in gold frames, the miniatures are set in bracelets of woven hair. These braided bracelets are Victorian in sensibility and therefore date to the mid-nineteenth century. The decision to modernize the bracelets affirms the miniatures’ continuing significance to the Storer family. Dunkerley, whose works are often confused with Copley’s because of their delicacy, tiny size, and similar casework, became one of the first important miniaturists of the new republic. He had come to America with the British army, which he deserted to serve as a lieutenant in the Massachusetts artillery regiment. In 1781, he rented a house from the patriot-silversmith Paul Revere, who fashioned some of Dunkerley’s casework.

Geography: 
Made in United States
Status: 
Not on view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
18th century
Classification: 
Miniatures - Jewelry
Provenance: 

By descent in family to sitter’s great-great granddaughter, Mrs. William Walker Orr, Scarsdale, New York, 1941; James Graham and Sons Gallery, New York, by purchase, 1949; Yale University Art Gallery, by purchase, 1949.

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.