Elijah Boardman, ca. 1790
John Ramage (Irish, act. America, 1775–94)
Watercolor on ivory; 2 1/16 x 1 3/8 in. (5.2 x 3.5 cm)
Gift of H. Bradford Smith, in memory of his mother, Lillie Wright Smith, and her sisters, Catharine Wright and Mary Wright Godcharles, and in honor of his aunt, Cornelia Wright Aldridge, 1989 (1989.204)
Ramage painted miniatures of lapidary brilliance, building up his hatched brushstrokes to achieve the appearance of enamel. His finest works, such as this one, bear exquisite locket cases. Ramage painted this jewel-like portrait of the successful dry-goods merchant Elijah Boardman (1760–1823) presumably as a gift for Boardman's fiancée, whom he would marry in 1792. The elegant coat with gold buttons and embroidered waistcoat with pearl buttons perfectly complement the dapper sitter.