Portrait of Mrs. Nathaniel (Sally Sayward) Barrell (1738-1805)

Collection Type

  • Art

Date

1761

GUSN

GUSN-4659

Description

Oil portrait of Sally Sayward Barrell; Three-quarter length view of young woman in formal pose wearing an elaborately ruffled blue silk dress with lace collar and cuffs; flower on bracelet at front; pearl necklace; classical urn and drapery background; original gilt and carved wood frame with leafy scrolled motif.

Details

Descriptive Terms

portraits
paintings (visual works)
canvas
oil paint (paint)
Picture
Portrait
Portrait

Label

Cherished Possessions: In 1761, Jonathan Sayward commissioned Joseph Blackburn, then residing in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to paint a portrait of his daughter Sally. Blackburn's invoice to Sayward survives and indicates that his fee for the portrait was ten guineas, approximately the cost of a very expensive piece of case furniture. Sally was the Saywards' only child. A few years after this portrait was painted, Sally's husband Nathaniel Barrell broke with his father-in-law over religious differences and refused to allow his children to see their grandfather. The rift lasted for seventeen years, during which time Sally's portrait hanging in the Sayward's parlor must have served as a poignant reminder of family troubles.
In 1761, Jonathan Sayward commissioned Joseph Blackburn, then residing in nearby Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to paint a portrait of his daughter Sally. Trained in England, Blackburn worked in Bermuda beginning in 1752 before moving to Boston in 1755. In 1758, he moved again, this time to Portsmouth, where he worked for five years before returning to England. Like most portrait artists working in the colonies, Blackburn moved often. Exhausting the pool of available subjects in one town, artists moved on in search of new clients. Blackburn's invoice to Sayward survives and indicates that his fee for the portrait was ten guineas, approximately the cost of a very expensive piece of case furniture.
Sally was Saywards' only child. At the time her portrait was painted, the twenty-three-year-old and her two-year-old daughter were living with her parents while her husband, merchant Nathaniel Barrell, was in the midst of a three-year business trip to England. The painting shows a typically idealized image of eighteenth-century womanhood, with Mrs. Barrell loosely holding a basket of roses over one arm and a rose bud in the other hand.

Maker

Blackburn, Joseph, ca. 1730-ca. 1778 (Maker)

Object Type

Art

Dimensions

50 1/2 x 40 1/2 (HxW) (inches)

Credit Line

Gift of the heirs of Elizabeth Cheever Wheeler

Accession Number

1978.115

Places

New Hampshire (United States)
Maine (United States)
Portsmouth (Rockingham county, New Hampshire)