Do you know what she is holding and whether it is significant?
Yes! In this portrait by Charles W. Peale, Mrs. David Forman is holding cherries, which were a common symbol of love or matrimony.
The artist likely borrowed the motif from the recently published book "Emblems for the Improvement and Entertainment of Youth." Fruits and flowers in Colonial American portraits also showed that the sitters had access to these luxuries and maybe even cultivated and grew the fruit or flowers themselves, which was considered an accomplishment.