RESERVED - Portrait Of A Lady With A Red Bow

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A 19th-century three-quarter length portrait of a seated lady holding the bible and wearing a black dress with a lace collar and red bow.

The style of this portrait is reminiscent of 19th-century American folk art and it’s been said that the subject could well be a Christian pilgrim. Her modest attire certainly fits that scenario.

In 1836, John Farrar’s lifestyle manual ‘The Young Lady's Friend’, provides guidance on how a devout Christian American woman should dress. In a chapter entitled ‘Dress a Test of Character’, he explains that an outfit can shape how a lady is perceived by society and that it’s vital to avoid “the clumsy and inconvenient garments of the savage.”

He stresses that even though many wealthy women wear “pink ribbons on their bonnets and blue shawls on their shoulders, while their hands display yellow gloves and green bags,” a Christian lady should dress without the vanities of such embellishments.

Oil on canvas
Size including frame 21” x 17⅔” / 53.5cm x 45cm
Year of creation c. 1830 - c. 1880
Condition Craquelure throughout but otherwise fine.