This handsome miniature depicts James Barroll, whose daughter married Lewis Washington, a great-grand-nephew of George Washington. The elaborate verso incorporates Barroll’s monogram and a lock of his hair, seed pearls and goldwork suggesting sheaves of wheat into a stylized design surrounded by cobalt glass. Hair was incorporated into miniatures as a memento of love or loss, particularly in the early 19th century. The locket was likely intended for the sitter’s wife and the sheaves of wheat—a common symbol—as a representation of love. Perhaps it was created as a keepsake when just after their marriage Barroll served as an officer in the War of 1812, fighting with the First Baltimore Hussars in the Battle of North Point in 1814.
An oval, bust-length miniature portrait in polychrome watercolors of James Barroll of Baltimore. Barroll is shown three-quarters turned to the proper left and gazing out to the proper right toward the viewer. He is depicted in a midnight blue jacket with three gold buttons over a white stock and jabot. He is shown with natural dark brown hair combed forward and long sideburns in the style of the early decades of the 19th century. His extremely light eyes are of an unusual green hue and his pale skin has been warmed with orange tones at the cheeks, chin, and forehead. The background has a particularly pronounced hatching with a somewhat unusual incorporation of red with blue and green, in a mostly diagonal format.
The portrait is housed in its original case. The front of the case is a simple oval of rose gold with an integral suspension ring. The case has a decorative reverse with Barroll’s monogram letters ornamented with seed pearls, together with a lock of his hair, and goldwork suggesting sheaves of wheat, all on an opalescent white glass or lacquer and ringed by an internal band of rose gold, surrounded by rich cobalt glass and another band of rose gold.
Watercolor on ivory; rose gold, glass, cobalt glass, hair, seed pearls; yellow gold.
Overall: 3 1/8 in. x 2 5/8 in. x 3/16 in. (7.87 cm x 6.6 cm x 0.51 cm)
Gift of Mary Washington Marr, 2009
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