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Portrait of a child holding a basket

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    Posted 7 years ago

    (103 items)

    I really like portrait miniatures, and in particular those of children. Unfortunately, many are mourning pieces as many children didn't live to adulthood.

    One of my favorites is this young girl holding a basket of white roses, strawberries and cherries, circa 1840. The dark clouds in the background could represent mourning, but I have no information on this portrait. It is most likely by an American painter, Mrs. Moses B. Russell (Clarissa Peters), but there is no signature. I had this frame made for the portrait.

    MRS. MOSES B. RUSSELL (1809-1854) was born Clarissa Peters in North Andover, Massachusetts and she married the miniaturist Moses Baker Russell in 1839. The couple shared a studio at 21 School Street in Boston where Mrs. Russell specialized in portraits of children and posthumous mourning portraits. Their work is sometimes confused as her husband also painted portrait miniatures.

    Antiques Roadshow had an attributed Mrs. Russell portrait and as part of the episode, they interviewed Elle Shushan, who said, ""Her children are almost always shown full body and full face looking directly at the artist with these two big eyes, and almost always holding something," Shushan says. "She painted the same face over and over again and it's a very cute face. Whether it was highly regarded back then by academic painters we don't know, but it's highly regarded today by folk art collectors."

    Some characteristics of Mrs. Russell's work from a description I found:

    These include a hatched striated background, with the skylike opening giving the work an atmospheric effect and creating the illusion of depth, counterbalancing the flat features of the child. The eyelids and irises are heavily outlined, making the eyes the most prominent facial feature. The large head and broad forehead, as well as the fine line that separates and distinguishes the hand from the forearm, are additional characteristics frequently encountered in Mrs. Russell's work.

    If you Google Mrs. Moses Russell you can see a number of other examples of her work.

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    1. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 7 years ago
      That is a beautiful and evocative portrait. You say you had the frame made?

      I am in awe! How did you have a Georgian style floral border gold frame custom made to fit the portrait?

      Maybe you have a time-machine in your garden OR you leave the pieces you need restored in a special place and the elves came and fix them for you?

    2. kyratango kyratango, 7 years ago
      I'm with Paul for the frame part too!
      Elves work!!!
      This miniature is striking and as usual your doc and explanations are very instructive :-)
    3. Bluboi Bluboi, 7 years ago
      Thank you everyone!

      I bought this portrait from a friend and she was mounted in a very bad (and ugly) frame. I also had additional portrait miniatures needing "assistance" -- cleaning, some were apart, compromised glass, no glass, tiny pearls sliding all around, etc.

      I asked around and was directed to Wiebold Studio <> in Ohio. They are excellent and among other things, they can make period correct frames.

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