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Loan Object
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Sarah Goodridge, American, 1788–1853

Miss Martha Harris Appleton (1843–1919)

ca. 1850

Watercolor on ivory

1 5/16 × 1 1/8 in. (3.3 × 2.9 cm)
Promised bequest of Davida Tenenbaum Deutsch and Alvin Deutsch, LL.B. 1958, in honor of Kathleen Luhrs
ILE1999.3.61

This miniature depicts Martha Harris Appleton, who was the grandniece of artists Sarah and Eliza Goodridge. Martha was the daughter of Frances Anne Atkinson and Edward Appleton, a Harvard-educated civil engineer who built railroads around New England, including the first street railway in Massachusetts. Here, young Martha is depicted holding a book, showing her early commitment to self-education. Books were an important source of edification and entertainment for children, whose portraits often depicted them reading. By the mid-nineteenth century, children’s literature was often segregated by sex. In addition to instilling piety and imparting general knowledge, girls’ books affirmed nurturing values that would prepare them to become wives and mothers. Education was considered essential training for motherhood, and girls were increasingly schooled in practical subjects in addition to sewing, music, and drawing. Martha’s love of reading carried through to adulthood, and she served from 1869 to 1873 as librarian of the library of Reading, Massachusetts, an institution founded through the contribution of numerous books from the Appleton family collection. Martha later married Henry M. Brown, a shoe cutter, and the couple had a son.

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. Raised in Templeton, Massachusetts, the sixth of nine children, 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 two trips to Washington, D.C., in the winters of 1828 and 1841, probably at the invitation of her intimate friend Daniel Webster, a Massachusetts senator and later secretary of state.

Geography: 
Made in Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Status: 
On view*
Culture: 
American
Period: 
19th century
Classification: 
Miniatures
Provenance: 

Louis Lyons; Ed Paine; Davida Tenenbaum Deutsch and Alvin Deutsch

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.