Folk Art

Fantastic Pair of Schoolgirl Allegorical Watercolor Paintings
  • Art was an important subject taught to young girls in girls' academies and schools. We are used to seeing needlework pictures from these academies, but the school mistresses also taught their charges to paint. These watercolors are likely painted by a school-girl as her graduation project. The paintings feature two women in classical dress, one picking grapes from a vine that seems to float on air. At her feet lays a basket overflowing with fruit and above the oval portal are strawberries while below the portal are two cornucopias. This woman may represent Spring or Summer with bountiful crops. The woman in the other painting holds a child while a basket of bread hangs from her arm. She hands the standing child a loaf of bread. The woman with children is a classic representation of the virtue "Charity" but the lady might also represent Autumn when the wheat (below her oval portal) is harvested and used for the good of the town folk. Behind her are a brick building that may be a school and farther back a steepled church. This second painting is marked on the back with fabric tape that is inscribed with marker "A. W. Dow," whom we assume is the artist. The frame backing of the first described and pictured painting has remnants of tape but name is illegible. The paintings are circa 1830 in frames and verre églomisé glass mats that are likely early 20th century. Early 19th century graduation projects were often framed with verre églomisé glass mats so this framing is totally appropriate to the period. Condition of the paintings is very good. The woman picking grapes has toning, some scuffing of the paper. The woman with the children has toning and a short tear to the left margin that does not reach the composition. The framed size of each is 10” x 13 ½”. American School, circa 1830.

    #7037    $6750/pair