Antique Watercolor Folk Double Portrait by S.B. Gregory
  • A charming double watercolor folk portrait of mother and child by S.B. Gregory. I can’t find anything about this artist, but in the past I have owned another portrait by him/her that was dated 1833 and very obviously by the same hand.

    These two little miniatures are actually each painted on a separate piece of card or paper which has been glued to a larger card and trimmed with foil tape. The toddler wears a gaily printed dress that comes to just below the knees, short white socks, and flat leather slippers. The young girl also wears a ruffled bonnet and holds something in her hands that might be a ring of teething toys. Mom wears a dress with natural waist, stuffed sleeves that start low on shoulder then balloon out to wrist where they are gathered to a tight fit again. She also wears a black apron, ruffled bonnet with ribbons, and white tucker.  She is holding book and wears wedding ring. The lower left corner of each portrait is signed “S.B. Gregory Pinxt” and a date. Unfortunately, the entire date is obscured by the foil tape on the child and the final numeral on the woman’s portrait is also obscured so that we can only read “183_”.

    These portraits are wonderful enough to surpass the fair condition in which we find them. I think they would actually be better if some past owner had not tried to lighten the paper around the edges of the figures, but at least the figures themselves were unharmed by the misguided “restoration”. The paper has suffered some yellow toning. But, they are both intact and the framing into a single frame bordered by the gilt foil is a creative way to display mother and daughter in a single frame. They reside in a period mahogany veneer frame with splined corners that has some finish blemishes and that measures 8” x 10”. There is a nice, heavily chamfered board on the reverse of the frame.

    I’ve included an image of the last Gregory watercolor portrait that I owned so you can compare the three portraits. You will see that the two women wear almost the exact same dress in different colors, wear bonnets that are drawn with the same flourishes and have hands that are drawn in the same formula. Gregory obviously worked with a formula, similar to the way folk portraits such as J.H. Davis worked.

    Fun folk art for your collection! 1830s.

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