Interesting that the setting is outdoors. This would have been painted separately, right?
Yes! But keep in mind that artists of the colonial era didn't paint outside at that point in history. Prior to the invention of tube paints, it was very difficult to work in the outdoors. Ralph Earl likely based the background on what would compositionally look best rather than accurately depicting the landscape. He may have been working from a printed reproduction of a landscape painting by another artist.
As you move through the galleries you'll see how American artists begin to embrace the American landscape, painting more from observation and later painting entirely outside their studios and outdoors!
I am wondering what she is holding in her hand. Is it a letter opener?
Ralph Earl's portrait of Clarissa Seymour was painted when she was just 17. She is holding a closed fan, a popular accessory at the time for young ladies.
Could you please tell me about this painting?
Sure thing! This painting by Ralph Earl depicts Clarissa Seymour, who was 17 at the time it was painted in 1789. Earl combined the portrait painting style that he learned in England with a more realistic way of showing his patrons when he was working in Connecticut.
Earl meticulously depicted her clothing, including the lovely patterns on her outfit, which shows the viewer that Seymour was a wealthy woman of high status.
Who is she?
Hi there! You're looking at a portrait of Clarissa Seymour by Ralph Earl. Here we see Earl combine the traditional portrait painting style he learned in England with a more realistic approach to depicting his clients.
Seymour was a prominent member of society in Litchfield, Connecticut. Her father had been a captain in the Revolutionary War and was a merchant and landowner. Her powdered hair, her flowing dress, and her jewelry were very stylish for the late 1780s! This portrait was made two years before her marriage to Truman March, a church rector and Yale graduate.
Let me know if you'd like to know more about the artist, the sitter, or anything else during your visit today!
Who is this woman? The description only tells about the conservation process.
This is Clarissa Seymour who is seventeen in this portrait. She later married Truman Marsh who was a Rector in the Episcopal Church. She lived to be 94!
Do you know why she has a knife?
I think what you're referring to is just her fan, a fashionable accessory for 18th century ladies! It was also an invaluable way to keep cool during the hot, humid summers of the northeastern United States.
What's in her hand?
It's a folded fan! Fans were a popular fashion accessory for women in the 18th century, and were also very useful to help keep cool through their many layers of clothing and corsetry.
You'll see another fan in the hand of Doña María de la Luz Padilla y Gómez de Cervantes in the same gallery.