American Artist: Edward Greene Malbone
Memorial Portrait of a Young Lady, Depicted with a Rainbow,
Heavenly Rays of Light and Three Angels in the Background
attributed to Edward Greene Malbone (1777-1807)
2 x 2 1/2 inches (sight; half side of frame measures 3 3/16 x 3 5/8 inches)
watercolor on ivory; housed in a later (circa 1840), hinged daguerreotype case
Sadly, the identity of this young subject is today unknown. She lived two centuries ago, and she was likely befallen by one of any number of diseases that were incurable in the early nineteenth century. Upon her death, she was sorely missed, as evidenced by this beautiful portrait miniature commissioned to memorialize her life.
The young lady is depicted in a captivating setting, with heavenly rays of light, a rainbow pointing heavenward, three angels and a laurel of rose blossoms. The scene is poignant, leaving the viewer wanting to know more about the subject who, by her appearance, died way too young.
Painted circa 1805, this early American portrait has been attributed to Edward Greene Malbone (1777-1807). Towards the end of his own short life, Malbone painted several similar miniatures, the most well known of which is a portrait of Eliza Mason Parker, currently a holding of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
When acquired for the collection, this miniature was housed in its current frame, a hinged daguerreotype case dating to circa 1840. Close examination of the ivory, however, reveals that the portrait was originally housed in an earlier frame with an oval shaped mat.
The portrait as seen when removed from the daguerreotype case. Note the faded area in the shape of an oval vignette -- indicating that the portrait had originally been framed under an oval shaped mat.