This charming portrait miniature depicts Mary Thurston Fauntleroy Barnes, an early Vice Regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association from the District of Columbia. It was likely painted by Leopold Paul Unger in Louisiana, and it is signed and dated 1848. The miniature is striking for its fashionable presentation of Mrs. Barnes. She is shown in an unusual and elaborately braided and curled hairstyle, and the artist has highlighted her ropes of curls to emphasize them. Mrs. Barnes attire is skillfully painted with apparent texture and pattern visible within the dress, and numerous colors worked together to create the vivid red of the shawl.
Rectangular, bust-length portrait miniature of Mary Thurston Fauntleroy [Mrs. Joseph K. Barnes]. The subject is presented frontally, with head slightly turned and gazing to the (proper) left. She wears a patterned navy blue dress with pleats gathered vertically from the shoulders, a high collar decorated with white lace, and a shawl in variegated shades of red, pink, gold, and orange draped loosely above the elbows. Her dark brown hair is worn parted in the middle with a looped braid in back and two strands of long ringlet curls on each shoulder. She wears gold hoop earrings and a black cord necklace with a gold clasp and red center stone. The subject’s large eyes are blue and her skin is pale. The ground is hatched in shades of blue (just paler than the dress) and maroon-red, becoming bluer at the upper edges, and more maroon in the lower areas, with a combined shade in the middle.
The miniature is framed in a gilded wood frame, with an inset gold leaf mat under glass.
Watercolor on ivory mounted on card; gilt wood frame, glass
Overall (HxWxD): 3 1/2 in. × 3 in. × 1/2 in. (8.89 cm × 7.62 cm × 1.27 cm)
Bequest of Adelaide Heath Doig, 1962
A plate with a ring at the top of the frame is stamped: “Foster Bros. Boston.”
At lower proper right corner, in bright yellow paint: â€œUnger px 1848â€. The signature is presently covered by the mat board.
Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here