Portrait of A Woman,Unidentified Artist

Unidentified Artist (American, 19th century)

 Portrait of A Woman, 19th century

 Oil on canvas

 Gift of Susan Palmore for the Estate of Betty Sterling, 2007 (13722.1)

 The middle-class citizens of the newly formed United States of America often engaged itinerant folk artists to capture their likenesses for posterity.  These patrons could not afford to hire or did not have access to artists like Gilbert Stuart and John Singleton Copley, whose works are also on view in this gallery.  Unlike Stuart and Copley, folk artists did not receive academic training and were largely self-taught.  The result, as seen in this portrait of an unidentified woman, is a work of art that may not depict the subject in the most anatomically correct manner (note the sitter’s small hands and uneven shoulders).  Nevertheless, the unknown artist records with great detail the sitter’s wrinkled face, as well as her need for glasses and interest in reading.