Following the death of John Parke Custis in November 1781 Eleanor Calvert Custis and her four young children moved in with her in-laws, the Washingtons. Eleanor had married young, and still retained a great deal of beauty and charm, as shown in this 1782 portrait miniature. It was perhaps this pleasing countenance that captured the attention of David Stuart, who had recently set up his medical practice in Alexandria, Virginia. The two were wed late the following year. Stuart became a trusted friend and advisor to George Washington.
A: Ivory miniature set in an oval gold brooch and pendant mount; oval ivory ground painted in polychrome watercolors depicting Eleanor Calvert Custis; she wears a long sleeved blue gown over which is draped a large white kerchief, her hair is arranged in the hedgehog style, a single curled lock falls behind her right shoulder; the shaded grey background is lightest to the right, it is lit from the top left; the miniature is protected by a scalloped and engraved gold spacer; an oval glass cover is set into a plain, thin banded gold bezel.
The obverse of the miniature showcases a plaited lock of hair set beneath an engraved gold spacer; an oval glass cover is set into a gold bezel decorated with a flat chased feathered edge; set into the bezel sides is a brooch pin, the hinge rests on the right side, the catch on the left; at the top of the bezel is the gold loop pendant mount.
A: Gold, glass, ivory, watercolor, hair, paper,
B: Copper alloy, silk, leather, paper
Overall: 1 7/8 in. x 1 5/8 in. x 7/16 in. (4.78 cm x 4.14 cm x 1.12 cm)
Purchased with funds donated by Ms. Jeanne M. Defliese and CAPT James D. Huck, USN, 2008
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