Monday, July 11, 2011

Sarah L. Smith Portrait

North Carolina Portrait of a Lady with Exaggerated Puffy Sleeves

Oil on canvas, wearing a large lace bonnet with blue ribbon, prominent gold and jet jewelry, and holding a red book, inscribed "Mrs. Sarah L. Smith / March 1836 / W(?) B Chapin Pinxit" on canvas verso. Original mahogany frame with brass hanger. 1836. 31 1/2" x 26 1/2" sight, 38 1/2" x 33 1/2" overall. Painting in excellent visual condition, no apparent punctures or tears, professional restoration including new stretchers and in-painting. Frame in excellent condition.

Provenance: Property of a Smith/Graves family descendent.

By descent: Sarah L. Smith (born c. 1800); to her sister-in-law Susan F. Smith Thornton (b. 1818); to her daughter Donna R. Thornton, married Jeremiah Graves, Jr. (b. 1835) in Caswell County, North Carolina, on June 13, 1860; to her son Robert Sterling Graves (b. 1870) and daughter Sallie W. Graves (b. 1880); to the current owner.

Catalogue Note: Sarah L. Smith (born c. 1800), widow of Samuel C. Smith, inherited 131 acres of land from her husband's estate in 1834. The land was located in Caswell County, North Carolina "on the road from Red House to Milton" which is near the Virginia state line. Samuel Smith also bequeathed part of his land holdings to his sister, Susan F. Smith Thornton, wife of Dr. Robert B. Thornton of Milton, North Carolina. The 1850 Federal census recorded the Thorntons as close neighbors of African-American cabinetmaker Thomas Day.

Beginning around 1860 this portrait hung in "Dongola," the circa 1835 Antebellum brick mansion built by tobacco planter Jeremiah Graves in Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina. The current owner remembers the portrait hanging in the home prior to it coming into her possession.

Sales Price: $1,995
Sales Date: 25 June 2011
Auction House: Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates (2177 Green Valley Lane, Mt. Crawford, Virginia).

Photograph courtesy of Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates.

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