Small Portraits

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Marked prices are sale prices. All sales are net.


1.The work of Justus Da Lee (1793-1878), this example from 1838-1840. An exquisite example, 10 plus. Her head is drawn totally in profile and her body half turned to the front, Delicate and self-assured in workmanship.

2.The work of Justus Da Lee. A rare example with a frontal body orientation, profile head, and black oval surround (spandrels). This combination was first used in 1837. Earlier examples have nothing in the background of the figure. Also the most delicately drawn and colored example that I have ever seen. Black paper mat has a wrinkle, lower right corner.

3. A stunning portrait is of the Reverend Luther Lee by Richard Da Lee (1809-1868), younger brother of Justus. While his profile lines are not as fluid as are those of his brother, they are in other ways more emphatically defined. His eyes are completely outlined, his brow arched, even the slightly open mouth shows the teeth of the sitter. Most unusual and distinct to his work within the family group of artists is the extension of parts of the composition into the black spandrel area, as the books do here. There are seven and a scroll of paper in his near hand, his chair is paint-decorated and his body is drawn in a longer pose. This work is from the late 1830's or the early 1840's.

4. The back leaning figure seen here (drawn circa 1840)and usually with a longer torso than the works of the others indicates, we believe, the work of Mary A. Fowler Da Lee (1820-1879), wife of Justus. Her figures, this young man identified on the back as Lemuel Crane, also seem to have a receding chin.

5. The most "telling" feature of this work is the application of blue around the edge of the black oval and extending to the edge of the figure. Amon (1820-1879) did this almost always, particularly on his older sitters. His sitters also seem less animated, more placid, and their drawing is less fluid and less skillful. Circa 1840.

6. The delicacy and sense of relationship is obvious in all of Richard's later portraits of his own immediate family. Son Van Buren Da Lee ((1837-1905), was painted numerous times, and their survival suggests their preciousness to his parents. Whenever I have seen him as a child or youth, he is portrayed 3/4 or full length. Spandrels are not used in his portraits of children, and outline of the figure seems meaningful, its pose conveying mood or temperament.

$9,500 each pair



Boy in a Blue Jacket by Mary B. Tucker

Fewer than a dozen works are attributed to Mary Tucker, and approximately eight more of them are actually signed.
Although her genealogy is not well known, she is said to have been from Massachusetts and active in Boston, as well as the Concord-Sudbury area.

Some of those few signed works are dated, always between 1840 and 1844. The simpler, full profile examples, such as this boy, are always dated between 1840 and 1842.

These works, always on large paper for a drawn portrait are posed as half length portraits. Boy in Blue Jacket, executed in graphite, ink, and watercolor, is 19 x 23 1/2 inches sight and 21 x 27 1/2 inches in its period gilded framed with remnants of gilded spandrel corners on its glass.

The work has some unusual and consistent details: a flat line across the bottom and a space below it; no inner shading to the skin and a firm black outline to the figure that, as it moves away from his body, becomes more defuse in character; an odd black inner ear line where bone meets cheek.

This work is virtually identical to a boy in a black jacket in an article by Arthur B. Kern in Antiques and Fine Arts, Summer/Winter 2009, p.210.



Family Before the Fire, a Banjo Clock Hanging Between Them Above the Mantle. An early work by Joseph H. Davis. Maine or New Hampshire, probably 1833.

It is said that Davis, as an historical person does not exist. A definitive identification has never been found, but a group of works clearly by the same hand, were painted between 1833 and 1837. Many bare descriptions of the sitters, and a group is known which does not. The quality of the painting and the composition of the figures indicates a probable date of 1833 to 1835.

The family members are each drawn with their amusements held before them: the mother has her sewing, the father reads, the older boy has a drum and the younger a (toy) rifle, and the baby holds a rose.

Patterns dominate the page: a large hooked rug or painted floor-cloth, paint-decorated furniture, smoke decorated fireplace surround, the fireplace with andirons and a burning fire, as well as wreaths above and the banjo clock in the middle. A painted border tops the wall.

Observation and consciousness of detail in themselves define the artist. perhaps some day a fully signed example will tell us exactly who he was.

Watercolor, pencil and ink on paper. Period frame, 15 x 9 inches sight and 29 1/2 x 35 1/2 inches framed.



Miss Boyton, Wilton, New Hampshire, c.1830

Miss Boyton, in a blue dress and wearing strands of black beads, is from the Egan Collection, and she was exhibited and illustrated in "A Loving Likeness: American Folk Portraits of the Nineteenth Century," in the Gallery at Bristol-Myers Squibb in 1992, text by Marna Anderson.

Under "Anonymous Artists", one small group of hollow-cut silhouette and watercolor portaits is placed near similar portraits by unknown artists referred to as the Puffy Sleeve Artist and the Red Book Artist. A descriptive name such as the previos examples have not been assigned to this artist, although the work is equally distinctive stylistically. I have had examples with initials from all these artists, and any dated work I have ever seen has been done in 1831. They represent people from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine.

Like many others, she is in a stamped brass frame and measures 4 3/8 by 5 and 1/4 inches.


Drama, intensity, directness, confrontation. Not terms of endearment but words of description of one of the most unusual small portrait I have ever seen. They stand facing each other, are portrayed 1/2 length, are almost monochrome in palette but filled with small details of costume.

I want to say it is a contest: who will blink first, who will step back, speak? They are so still, so silent. Their eyes meet and hold. She holds a book in her hand, level, facing him. He tucks his hand inside his jacket, in refusal to accept it? There is not background but the small embellishment that seem to indicate age. She is 28. He is 31, each a number painted beneath the figure.

This is one of the most unusual and memorable small portraits I have ever encountered.

Sight 7 x 4 3/4 inches, in what is probably their original frame. Probably New England or New York State. Circa 1835. Watercolor, graphite and ink on paper. Has been washed and de-acidified by Paper Conservation Studio, New York City. No damage.



In the 1830's and 1840's there were a number of Ohio artists drawing portraits in graphite on paper. Stylistically their work is relatively similar as is its somewhat unusual scale. On average they are about 7 by 9 inches, they are drawn in profile, and the head or head and shoulder crop of the image fills most of the space of the paper. Some of the works contain pastel or paint, although most do not.

This pair of portraits is clearly done by one of the above described artists, I think Robert Seevers, based on details like ear inner contours, profile drawing characteristics, and internal shading of the skin tones.

The main reference on these artists was published in August 2007 in The Magazine Antiques and was written by Arthur and Sybil Kern and Peter and Leslie Warren. It was entitled "Four Ohio Nineteenth century Folk Artists" and a follow-up article by Eleanor Gustafson in February 2008 illustrated others.

Sight size in this pair is 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches, and they are, in what appears to be their original mahogany frames, 10 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches. Circa 1825 to 1830.


#2273 sold


Ornamental Daguerreotype Cases

As early as 1840 different materials and techniques were tried to make the case of the daguerreotype both more durable and also more attractive. About this time, the first book-form case was made, although it did not become popular for another decade.

One model of these new cases was made of papier-mache’. This technique involved pasting sheets of paper together, applying glue between them and then applying pressure to them to make them stronger.

Mother–of-pearl designs were then applied to a soft black varnish, which had been applied to the boards. White was more common than colored examples of the mother-of-pearl material. After hardening the case in the oven, it was rubbed down with pumice and re-varnished, the purpose being to make the surface of the papier-mache’ level with the design. Sometimes ornamental gold lines, powdered pigments, and hand painting were added to further embellish the designs.

These two examples shown here are beautiful and well preserved. Each contains a daguerreotype made circa 1850, well preserved, and now archivally sealed.

A fine example of a boy leaning on a spindle-turned chair, beautifully tinted over his face, and in an ornately shaped mat and gilded line a corner decoration on his case.

A case that inside outdoes any example I have seen before. The sitter is a handsome young man, and red colored varnished paper that looks like leather and is ornately gilded.


Sixth plate dagerrotype of a charming young man, his dog across his lap, his straw hat on his head, a classic of our idea of a portrait from the "Old West." Circa 1860.



A Rare Cobweb Portrait

This work, a portrait of a woman, is mounted in a book made especially for the purpose of holding and preserving it. The covers are 8 3/4 x 9 7/8. Ink drawing of a cobweb with a spider in the corner, a bee and Swiss script text decorate it. Inside a label identifies it as made in Innsbruck of cobweb. Behind an pale blue mat and with a cover sheet to protect it further, a beautiful woman is made of colored threads of cobweb attached to an oval of glass, 5 x 3 1/2 inches .



A finely drawn pencil work of a woman seated in an early Federal chair, holding small work scissors, and with a sewing box on her elegant work table.
Her hands and scissors, face, and shoes are darkened with black ink, while the rest of the picture is drawn in shades of gray, the delicate parts of her costume and the furniture carefully defined.

In a period gilded frame, and evenly oxidize paper surface is in good condition. Circa 1800 and probably American.



A portrait of Miss Brewer by Henry Walton

This watercolor on paper portrait is inscribed "Drawn by H.Walton, Ovid 1843." In ARTIST OF ITHACA: HENRY WALTON AND HIS ODYSSEY, an exhibition at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University in 1988, organized by Leigh Rehner Jones, Miss Brewer is said to be the daughter of Emma May Pierce Brewer and said to have died at age 18.

She is portrayed in an extremely detailed setting with a patterned floral cloth, patterned drapery and table covering. She sits in a paint decorated chair, books upon the table beside her, a rose and a handkerchief in her hands and a floral filled garden path out the open door beside her. Her facial features are extremely expressive and are typical of the work of Walton. Possible original frame with acid free backing behind the paper of the drawing.

Drawing is 10 by 13 1/2 inches and framed she is 13 1/2 by 17 1/4 inches.



Three portraits attributed to Richard Da Lee

A mother, father and their daughter, presented in profile within painted spandrels, beautifully and sensitively drawn. Descended in the artist's family. Circa 1845 - 1850, Upstate New York. Pencil and watercolor on paper. Contemporary framing.

$7000 for set


An elegantly posed quarter plate daguerreotype of a young woman. A column covered with leaves occupies the space to her right. This is an example of the work of Samuel Broadbent of Philadelphia and is stamped "Broadbent" in the lower left corner of the mat. Broadbent's work is considered comparable Southworth and Hawes of Boston. It can be dated circa 1854. It is comparable in quality to the finest Philadelphia academic portraiture of that period. Archivally sealed and conservation framed.



A double-cased pair of sixth plate daguerrotype portraits of a young brother and sister. The boy is seated on a hobby horse and horizontally mounted in pose reminiscent of Deacon Robert Peckhem's famous boy on hobby horse painting. The girl is posed within a scalloped mat standing full-length beside a vase of flowers on the ground beside her in a pose reminiscent of a Susan Water's childs' portraits. Because this pair is so reminiscent of painted portraiture of the same period it was undoubtedly produced by an artist whose first career was as a painter before turning to photography. New England or New York state circa 1850. Archivally sealed and conservation framed



A Portrait of Lloyd Mifflin Earle ((March 20, 1853-May 18, 1853)
This sixth plate dageurreotype, made around 1857, shows its young subject, arm upon the ubiquitous patterned cloth- draped table. He is posed full-length, holding a wooden hoop,a large straw hat on, as well as a cloak which drapes his dress, highlighted with pale blue tinting. The costume, pose, and facial expression give him an expression of uncertaintly at the process being undertaken, which adds an element of pathos to the portrait.
His scalloped-edged brass mat holds his resealed image, which is housed in a rare and wonderful horizontal thermoplpastic case, known as 'Home in the Country' (#120 in Krainik). A soft brown wash covers the silver plate.



A pair of portraits, probably father and son, drawn in graphite on paper and in their original gilded rope-twist- decorated and corner embellished frames and behind their original reverse-painted black and gold glass mats.

They are the work of Demarest (previously thought to be Abraham Demarest) and are probably from the New Jersey or Maryland area and made circa 1820-1825.

The figures are drawn in profile and are half-length in pose. Features are well-outlined and form is shown through moderate shading of facial contours.The younger sitter is in a bamboo-turned windsor chair.

Framed dimensions are 7 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches and the site height of the drawn image itself is 3 1/4 inches.




The Quintessential Folk Art Double Portrait

Every scholar in the field has tried to define folk art. The definitions vary widely, and it is unusual to find a work that truly fits the definitions. Most definitions are based on what the work cannot demonstrate. The positive terms are about how or what in the work appeals to us, despite the characteristics seen in more academic work that it may lack.

This watercolor and ink drawing portrays a couple seated facing each other across a Queen Anne dining table. The artist portrays the figures in profile and half length. They float in space, not attached to chairs or standing on the floor. The table would have been constructed with a falling leaf that would have been supported with a swing leg. Here the leaf tilts upward and inward, a physical impossibility. The scene in which they are presented appears to have blue clouds and an area of green ground, features common to childrens' pictures of the outdoors, not the dining room we expect to see with the other "props" of the picture.

It is these inconsistences that define it: flat space inconsistently portraying place (indoors or outdoors), anatomically confusing figures, lack of knowledge of how to use linear perspective, and flat colors with no shadows or highlights.

The work though has great charm. Looking at it we can say, "Now I understand clearly the difference between folk art and academic art." It is a "found object", its condition worn, old folds are in its paper, which is now wrapped around an old paperboard, to give it strength. It has been salvaged- floated on a piece of acid free mat board and placed in an old, somewhat worn, gilded frame. It defines folk art better than almost anything I have ever owned. Kudos to its artist for a valiant attempt and a successful one.
Sight dimensions 8 1/2 inches by 6 1/4 inches. Framed dimensions 11 1/4 inches by 8 1/2 inches. Probably New England, circa 1790.


Sixth Plate Tintype of a Man Holding a Carpenter's Square and a Saw

American, circa 1860, in its original pressed paper case, mounted on brown suede, and in a black-painted contemporary frame fitted with museum glass.

Framed dimensions are 6 3/8 inches by 3 5/8 inches.



A beautiful image, radical in its context: America, the 1840's.

A photographic image of a large painting on an easel, the subject, two woman who appear to be lovers, or their pose could be described as romantic in feeling. The image, a daguerreotype, is a very early photographic process made on a silvered copper plate. The octagonal shape on the surface of the plate is tarnish on its silvered surface. This would have occurred occurred where an early octagonal brass mat covered the area beyond the edges of the central part of the painting- the easel and draped background- leaving only the two figures in the center of the composition visible. Multiple brass mats are stacked around it, creating a shadowbox-like effect.

The daguerreotype is approximately 2 1/2 x 2 3/4 inches, and the picture is in a period and possibly original mahogany veneered frame that is 9 1/4 x 9 3/4 inches. The octagonal mat, now removed to allow the viewer to see the entire image made by the photographer, dates circa 1847-1848.

This work is clearly a highly sophisticated urban work made within the first decade of photography in America. Subjects and artist/photographer are unidentified.



Two Generations Stylishly Portrayed

Beautifully painted, viewed with careful observation, and with an awareness of the importance of accurate and pleasing appearance, as well as fine costume, when painting a portrait.
The sitters are identified in pencil on the reverse and signed as painted by J.G. Adamson on September 19, 184(5?). The notation of a street in Brigate indicates a probable English origin and shows us how improbale such an origin can sometimes appear to be. There are sometimes clear differences between English and American folk art, and at other times such as this, the two are indistinguishable.
Framed as pairs in appropriate reproduction frames and conservation mounted. Each pair framed measures 9 3/8 x 7 7/8 inches. Each drawing unframed is approximately 2 1/2 x 4 inches in size.

$4,000 All Four



A Couple by the Puffy Sleeve Artist

An artist of stylish decorative skill work briefly in MA, VT and NH making hollow-cut silhouettes with watercolor painted bodies. The hand has never been identified, and it is remarkably similar to the work of two other artists who worked in the same brief time period, 1830-1831, but whose work had several distinct stylistic differences. This artist, referred to as the Puffy Sleeve Artist, painted thinner figures with more exaggerated outlines than did the others. Hand placement and drawing were different. Yet the distinct overlapping features in their works make it seem that a relationship existed between them.

The woman here, dressed in black and with blue ribbons on her collar and at her waist, holds a book with the initials D.W. painted on it. Her husband's coat has a brown lining or vest beneath it.

In what appear to be their original frames which measure 4 x 5 inches.

Ex-collection Raymond Egan. Illustrated in "A loving Likeness: American Folk Portraits of the Nineteenth Century", pp. 46 and 47, text by Marna Anderson. Exhibited in 1992 in the Gallery at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, NJ.



Best in Category: A Signed, Dated, and Embellished Portrait of Amos Jones by Justus Da Lee ( 1793-1878) 

Handsome and stylish, crisply drawn and in flawless condition, this small watercolor, pencil and ink portrait has everything desirable in the genre. Many works by the artist bear signature characteristics but few are actually signed. Date is usually estimated by costume and pose details. The fish as a decorative and possibly symbolic element appears on another known portrait and on a family record by the artist. The sitter's name is written in pencil script on the back of the portrait, as opposed to the block printed inscription on the front, giving us examples of both of his signature styles.

Jones is drawn in profile within a spandrelled format. Blue brush strokes are visible within the lower background area indicating a deliberate use of the blue aura that seems to bleed from the spandrel, possibly answering another question about the artist's working method. 

Not least, although repeated here at the end, the sitter has a personal elegance of face and costume, a dramatic persona created by sweeping brow and handsome features, and a thoughtful and pensive expression.

New York State. Paper with full margins is 3 x 3 1/2 inches. In what appears to be its original gilded frame which measures 4 1/8 x 4 5/8 inches.



Rufus Porter

A classic example of the artist's work, in untouched condition and in its original gilded rope twist frame. The young man portrayed is handsome, his pose thoughtful, its execution finely done. 

A note inside identifies the sitter as "Stevens Hayward Turner, Aged 21". Turner's dates are 1816-1884. He lived in Massachusetts. 

In pencil, ink and watercolor on paper with original painted border at frame edge. Circa 1837.


Portrait of a woman, painted in watercolor on paper and highly stylized in form. The shape of her skirt and the entire outline of her body is elegant and dramatic for an otherwise "countrified" portrait and shows us the value of an artist having a good design sense. The frame matting is later but complements the drawing.

Image size 3 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches and 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches framed.




The Unfinished Masterpiece of Richard Waterman
Moffitt Da Lee (1809-1868)

A Portrait of the artist's wife
Hannah Maria Minton Da Lee (1813-1890)

This small profile portrait, drawn in pencil, ink, and watercolor on paper, shows the sitter in a three-quarter length pose and seated, her skirt billowing out from her body. Our eyes are drawn up from it to focus on her face, highly detailed and with a pale blush of color. She has quiet beauty and a sense of peace and dignity. The area around her hands is unfinished as is the chair in which she sits. The pencil lines indicating the folds of her dress are drawn in unglazed pencil and shine like silver when tilted to catch the light. 

Descended in the family and inscribed on the back in ink, "Hannah Maria Minton Da Lee Born May 29th 1813 Died December 28th 1890 Wife of R M W Da Lee".

Western New York State. Circa 1855. 3 3/8 x 2 3/4 inches sight and in modern frame 6 3/8 x 5 3/4 inches.

Reference: "The Magazine Antiques", July /August 2011, Brownstein and Shushan, pgs 154-161. Illustrated pg 159.



A portrait of Van Buren Da Lee (1837-1905), son of Richard Waterman Moffitt Da Lee and Hannah Maria Minton Da Lee, circa 1841.

This small portrait of the artist's son, inscribed "Van Buren Da Lee Aged 4 years Son of R W M Da Lee" on the back in ink, is a small jewell of children's portraiture. Drawn in pencil, ink, and watercolor on paper by his father Richard W. M. Da Lee (1809-1868), it has a sense of great intimacy and charm. It is drawn with great delicacy and intense observation. A very similar portrait of Van Buren is in the collection of the Colonial Williamsberg Foundation.

Reference: "The Magazine Antiques", July /August 2011. Brownstein and Shushan, pgs 154-161. Illustrated pg. 158. 

Conservation mounted and in a modern frame. The image is 3 5/8 x 2 1/2 inches and is in a modern frame of 7 x 5 1/2 inches.



Double portrait of Eunice E. C. Marden and Lurana G. Marden (1835-1845), daughters of Sewell (1794-1856) and Sarah Avery Marden (1794-1862).

Painted by J. H. Davis in 1837 in Deerfield, New Hampshire.

Portraits by Davis of figures in outdoor settings are rare. The parents of Eunice and Lurana were also painted by Davis in the same year, and they are shown in his more typical double figure mode, seated facing each other at a table. This rare example has all the 'bells and whistles': bouquets and basket of flowers as well as potted plants, a cat, a doll, and the birds and butterflies used in other examples of this rare type of Davis composition.

In pencil, watercolor and ink on paper and in a period frame. 8 3/4 x 6 5/8 inches sight and 12 1/4 x 10 1/4 inches framed. 

Exhibited: "American Folk Art on Paper", Baltimore Museum of Art, 1984. 

Related examples are in the MFA, Boston, Karolik Collection and Sotheby's catalogue of the Daphne Farago Collection, February 1991, lot 1218. 


A tintype portrait of a young black woman holding a white child.

This small photographic image cannot be viewed without an awareness of its cultural roots. The 'nanny' leans backward, as if to remove herself as subject of the picture, as she holds the child forward toward the photographer. Yet she, more than the child, looks towards the camera, aware of the significance of fixing in time the moment they share.

In fine condition and encased in a brown floral-decorated thermaplastic case with an inner brass mat. Presumably from the American south, circa 1860.



Portrait of a gentleman.

Some portraits show likeness, some achieve character portrayal. There is setting to give information or one to set a stage for something more. English portraiture covers a spectrum from vacuous to intense, the society portrait to the inner soul revealed. Our gentleman is at the end of a scale tipped toward drama and insight, mood creation and thought provocation.
This is English folk portraiture rich in detail and stylish in execution: swagged drapery, fluted column, rich costume. But it is the man who commands our attention. 
Circa 1810-1820.



A rare intact family group of five profile portrait drawings of the family of John Martin and Mary Footman Martin of Plainfield, New Hampshire, circa 1835, by J.M. Crowley.

Included in the group are the parents and an older child shown in half-length poses and full-length standing portraits of the youngest children, William and Irene.

Crowley is known for his graphite drawings, and examples with standing children are particularly rare and prized. The artist is known to have worked both in New Hampshire and New York State from the mid-1820's through the 1830's.



An ambrotype of a portrait. The photographer's stamp says 'Bowdoin'. I believe this to be the only evidence of this now lost painting. Painting circa 1790's. Ambrotype circa 1850's.



An unusual watercolor and ink portrait on paper of a woman by an unidentified artist, shown in profile, and holding a colorful bouquet of flowers. New England circa 1830.



Rare double-sided portrait by J.A.Davis of

"Widow Phebe Hunt
Aged 68 years
Taken June 2 1849"

Both sides have inscription panels beneath the watercolor, ink, and pencil portraits. Both are sensitively drawn, and the blue-shadowed one is unusual in its intensity, and effect seldom achieved in portraiture.


Watercolor, pencil, and ink portrait of "Ezra Parsons, May 14, 1831" by "T.R. Robie". A fine portrait drawn by a great calligrapher. Note the beauty of the details. This is a hand I have never before seen.