JOHN BREWSTER, JR.
Sarah Brown Portrait Miniature
"Rarely found Brewster miniature in watercolor on paper"
New England, ca. 1820.
Attributed to John Brewster Jr. (1766-1854) a deaf-mute artist raised in a highly cultured family with seven brothers and sisters. He worked as an itinerant portrait painter along the New England coast. As a result of his extraordinary concentration, exemplary artistic skills, and especially his ability to “see” (given that he could not communicate verbally with his subjects), he was able to capture unique portraits that revealed the sitters’ nuanced personalities.
A note attached to the back reads: “This picture of Grandmother Babcock painted by an artist who came to the house. Perhaps when she was about twelve years old. Sarah A. BROWN Babcock. B 1807 M1830 D1856”.
Sarah wears a high-waisted blue dress. A tortoise shell comb lifts her hair while tendrils frame her pleasant, slightly turned face. There is a distinctive, rarely equaled quality to Brewster portraits: ethereal, direct, uncomplicated, almost a window into the soul of the sitter.
Gilded frame, likely original, about 5 7/8 inches x 5 1/8. Superb condition with slight, even, warm toning. Provenance: Private Northeast collection.
Reference: THE WORLD OF JOHN BREWSTER JR, Fennimore Art Museum; A DEAF ARTIST IN EARLY AMERICA, THE WORLDS OF JOHN BREWSTER JR., Harlan Lane.