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Lady with Her Pets (Molly Wales Fobes)

Rufus Hathaway (1770–1822)

Date:
1790
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
34 1/4 x 32 in. (86.6 x 81.3 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1963
Accession Number:
63.201.1
  • Description

    The sitter in this portrait is probably Molly Wales Fobes (1772–1801), the daughter of Prudence Wales and the Rev. Peres Fobes of Raynham, Massachusetts. The occasion for this richly symbolic image was her engagement to the Rev. Elijah Leonard (1760–1834), minister of the Second Congregational Church in Marshfield, whom she married on May 13, 1792. The painting is one of the best known examples of American folk art, yet the sitter reflects provincial attempts to echo European styles; her "herisson," or hedgehog style coiffure, and the almost emblematic arrangements of her pets mimic contemporary French fashion and portraiture, which Hathaway could have known through prints. It is Hathaway's earliest known work and retains its original marbelized frame.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Signature: [at lower right]: RH / Octr / 1790

    Inscription: [at lower left]: Canter

  • Provenance

    Marion Raymond Gunn, Newton, Massachusetts, by 1957; her estate; with Vose Galleries, Boston, as agents, 1958; with Mary Allis, Fairfield, Connecticut and Winsor White, Duxbury, Massachusetts, 1958; Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, Cambridge, Maryland, 1958 –1963

  • See also
    Who
    What
    When
    In the Museum
    MetPublications
11040

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