This is a really fabulous example of an American folk portrait of the American Fancy Period. This young girl stands on a patterned carpet of blues and reds that seems to drift into the horizon much as one would expect the sea to fall off the curve of the earth. The dark background really offsets her yellow blond hair as it curls around her face and her skin which, although pale, shows ruddy touches of color at her cheeks and lips. Her blue eyes gaze directly at the viewer and are a shade darker than her pastel but bright blue dress. She stands next to a turned-leg cricket (or footstool) with a top upholstered in deep red and decorated with brass tacks around the edge of the seat. In her right arm she cradles an adult woman doll with a long deep blue dress, red patterned shawl and white bonnet. The doll is likely wooden or papier maché. In her left arm, the child holds the stem of a pale pink rose which is downturned. On her feet the girl of 6 or 7 years wears white socks and low black slippers with straps at the ankle. Her dress is low cut, with a paneled V-shaped bodice and sleeves to the elbows which are tight with two puffed flounces. At her neck she wears a double strand of coral beads.
This exquisite watercolor on paper portrait resides in a period gilt frame that measures 8” x 7”. There some light brown spots throughout and a bit of paint loss at the top of the stool, the sleeve of her proper right arm, and on her face, just below the ruddy proper left cheek. These are small apologies for such a magnificent piece. The paint could certainly be touched-up if you like, but I’d leave it exactly in the original condition in which it is now found. The clothing and carpet date the portrait to circa 1835. Likely New England.