This charming miniature portrait depicts Justine Van Rensselaer Townsend as statuesque, contemplative, and dignified. The portrait captures her at the age of 64, in her second year as Regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. Originally from Albany, New York, Mrs. Townsend served as Vice Regent from that state from 1876. Mrs. Townsend was elected Regent in 1891 and continued in this role until her resignation from the board in 1909. She remained involved at Mount Vernon as Honorary Regent from 1909 until her death in 1912. While on the board, Mrs. Townsend raised funds for preservation, and was instrumental in the restoration of the mansion’s New Room after the ceiling collapsed. As Regent, Mrs. Townsend was involved in upgrading fire protection and stabilizing the riverfront at the estate, as well as investing the Association’s financial resources.
Oval, bust-length miniature portrait in polychrome watercolors of Justine Van Rensselaer Townsend (1828-1912), third Regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. Mrs. Townsend is shown almost three-quarters turned to the proper right, with a slight incline of her head back to the proper left. Her brown eyes gaze out to the middle distance. Mrs. Townsend wears a black velvet dress and a dark lace shawl, a pearl necklace, a large diamond earring on her proper left ear, and a diamond cross-shaped brooch pinned on her shawl. Her graying dark hair--swept up and worn atop her head--is ornamented by a diamond star.
The background has a brilliant blue sky and clouds in tones of gray and white.
The miniature is encased in a copper alloy frame. On the reverse of the case is an empty hair reserve, lined with off-white watered silk. The hanging loop on top is engraved PICKSLAY & CO. N.Y. The miniature is housed within a triptych-style case of red morocco leather which has an easel back and 2 hinged doors on the front.
Watercolor on ivory, copper alloy, silk, leather
Overall: 4 3/16 in. x 3 1/4 in. (10.64 cm x 8.26 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Roger Milliken, 1984
Signed on proper left background, in white paint, above the sitterâ€™s shoulder: â€œCT/1892â€.
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