Drama, intensity, directness, confrontation. Not terms of endearment but words of description of one of the most unusual small portraitr 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 arre 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.