Mrs. Moses B. Russell (American, 18091854)
Watercolor and gouache on ivory; 4 1/2 x 3 1/2 in. (11.4 x 8.9 cm)
Purchase, The Overbrook Foundation, Robert & Bobbie Falk Philanthropic Fund, and Lois and Arthur Stainman Philanthropic Fund Gifts, 1999 (1999.6)
Clarissa Peters Russell painted miniatures in Boston between 1836 and 1854. A highly productive artist, her portraits have often been misattributed because she occasionally worked with her husband, also a miniaturist, and often signed his name to her works, perhaps in the interest of developing the family business rather than an independent career. Here her hand is unmistakable: the baby's intricate gown, meticulous beaded coral necklace, striated foreground, and use of the ivory as a halo for the child's head display her delicate technique at its fullest. The infant is enthroned on an ornate tasseled pillow by a fluted column with climbing vines and drapery. The artist developed a particular expertise and a devoted following for her likenesses of women and children, many of which were memorials. This baby and the mischievous dog that plays with the coral rattle are very much alive, making this miniature a rare, exuberant example of her work.