Beautiful Watercolor Portrait of Girl with Her Toy Dog
Rarely do we find such complicated 19th century watercolor portraits. This pretty little girl stands next to a carved tablet-back chair with upholstered seat on a patterned carpet and before a patterned green drapery held with a gold tie-back. The drapery frames a blue door leading to another interior room which is just out of sight. The girl wears a white dress ruffled and flounced dress, white socks and black low-cut shoes with straps across the instep. Her gold-blond hair is parted in the center and her blue eyes look just to the left of the viewer. In her hand, she holds her favorite dog which is upon a stand (possibly a pull toy) and is in an unusual sitting position. As expected of parents who love their child enough to commission such a painting, the girl wears a coral bead necklace to “ward off evil” (known today as “good luck”). A printed tape on the back identifies the child as “Elizabeth.Jane.Barnard.Fowle.born July 16 1845.”
Elizabeth Fowle was born in 1845 in Rye, Sussex, UK. to Edward Fowle and Eliza Saunders. Her mother was 54 when Elizabeth was born! Her one and only sibling, George, was born in 1822 so there was a huge age gap between them. Her father is listed in the 1851 Census as a Victualler and Mariner. I found a couple of definitions of “Victualler,” but the one that makes the most sense for this gent is a person who supplies food, beverages and other provisions for the crew of a vessel at sea. The family lived on Watchbell Street, Rye. Elizabeth’s mother died when the child was was six in 1851, her father when she was 22 in 1868. Elizabeth married Charles Wilcockson, a schoolmaster, in 1871 and had three daughters, one born after the death of her husband in 1877 and another died aged 6. Interestingly, she is listed in the 1881 Census as a widow and a School Principal in Eastbourne. She died living at the home of one of her daughter’s in 1912 at the age of 67.
Elizabeth resides in a period maple frame with a stepped gilt liner. Framed size is 11 ¾” x 9 ¾” and the paper size is 8” x 6”. Very good condition with expected toning to the card.
Thank you to my friend in York, England who researched Elizabeth’s history. What would we do without friends? It takes a village, no?