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Half-length, three-quarter view of a young woman with brown hair and gray eyes. Brown dress with red necktie, square neckpin. Dark wood frame.
paintings (visual works)
oil paint (paint)
supports (artists' materials)
In the Blue Willow Room, nestled next to the door, is the hauntingly lovely portrait of a young girl. William Matthew Prior, now one of the most celebrated folk portrait painters of the nineteenth century, signed the back of this work, indicating it was done in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Prior, born in Bath, Maine in 1806, began painting professionally by age eighteen. It was his wife's family of Hamblen brothers that brought him the ability to expand his business, as they began working together as portrait artists in Portland then in Boston to form a significant body of work now known as the Prior-Hamblen school. This portrait of an unknown young lady is an excellent example of Prior's finer painting.
When the influential designer Henry Davis Sleeper purchased this painting for Beauport, his home on Eastern Point in Gloucester, Massachusetts, he was responding to an aesthetic that appealed to many of his contemporaries. The large flat swathes of color typical of nineteenth-century primitive paintings like this one paralleled the work of Modern artists of the early twentieth century.
"W.M. Prior/Pawtucket/RI" (Black pencil script)
"Pair/No-/ 9352" (Pencil script)
"+ n, 8x =" (Pencil script)
Original to Beauport, Sleeper-McCann House (Gloucester, Mass.),
Prior, William Matthew, 1806-1873 (Artist)
15 5/8 x 11 5/8 (HxW) (inches)
Gift of Constance McCann Betts, Helena Woolworth Guest and Frasier W. McCann
Rhode Island (United States)
Pawtucket (Providence county, Rhode Island)