Maria Clarissa Leavitt
Samuel Lovett Waldo
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, From Colonies to States, 1660–1830
These portraits were painted around the time that the sitters moved from New York to Brooklyn, where David Leavitt had an interest in the Brooklyn White Lead Company (later Dutch Boy Paint). One of his partners in this enterprise was the Brooklyn Museum’s founder, Augustus Graham. In this work, David Leavitt looks up from his newspaper, which signals involvement as a citizen in the larger world of business and politics.
Maria Leavitt, fashionably dressed and coiffed, is seated in a Neoclassical armchair before an open window. A generalized landscape view associates her with nature—a reference both to the sheltered lifestyle of a lady in society and to the heightened sensitivity then attributed to the female gender.
Oil on panel
33 3/16 x 25 1/2 in. (84.3 x 64.8 cm)
frame: 42 11/16 x 36 x 4 1/2 in. (108.4 x 91.4 x 11.4 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Anna S. Delafield, Fisher Howe, Lawrence Howe, and R. Warren Howe in memory of their brother, David Leavitt Howe (1915-1995)
Samuel Lovett Waldo (American, 1783-1861). Maria Clarissa Leavitt, ca. 1820-1825. Oil on panel, 33 3/16 x 25 1/2 in. (84.3 x 64.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna S. Delafield, Fisher Howe, Lawrence Howe, and R. Warren Howe in memory of their brother, David Leavitt Howe (1915-1995), 1996.43.2 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1996.43.2_SL1.jpg)
overall, 1996.43.2_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Brother and sister or husband and wife?
This is the husband-and-wife duo of David and Maria Clarissa Leavitt, painted by Samuel Lovett Waldo. It is believed that these portraits were painted when David Leavitt opened a new business in Brooklyn, thus giving the couple some new income for commissioning a pair of portraits. The Leavitts were both born in Connecticut, and Mr. Leavitt's business enterprises brought them to Brooklyn. He was a financier and the president of Fulton Bank.