Small Portraits

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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.


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 .


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.