American Artist: Edward Greene Malbone
Young, Early Nineteenth Century American Lady,
Depicted with a Rainbow and Three Cherubs in the Background
(One of the Cherubs Holds a Cupid's Bow and Arrow,
and Another Holds a Laurel of Rose Blossoms)
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 under glass in a later (circa 1840)
traveling case (only partially shown) with a mat of embossed sheet brass
When originally acquired for the collection, it was believed that this was a mourning or memorial portrait of a deceased young lady (which, given the presence of angels, a rainbow and what appear to be heavenly rays of light, seemed to be a logical conclusion). Upon closer inspection, however, it is obvious that the angels are actually cherubs (sometimes referred to as putti). One of the cherubs, in fact, holds a cupid's bow and arrow, leading one to conclude that the portrait is more of a love token, perhaps commissioned to commemorate the young lady's betrothal.
Painted circa 1805, this early American portrait has been attributed to Edward Greene Malbone (1777-1807). Towards the end of his short life, Malbone painted several similar miniatures, the most well known of which is a portrait of Miss Eliza Mason (later Mrs. Samuel Dunn Parker), currently a holding of the Milwaukee Art Museum.
A view of the portrait outside its case, allowing its colors and
brush strokes to be seen more clearly without the distortion or
reflection that is often caused by the glass lens of a miniature's case
(Click + symbol above for an enlarged view)
Note the faded area in the shape of an oval vignette --
indicating that the portrait had originally been framed under
an oval shaped mat.