Watercolor on ivory in an ormolu frame
Framed: 8.9 x 7.5 cm (3 1/2 x 2 15/16 in.); Sight: 6.5 x 5.2 cm (2 9/16 x 2 1/16 in.)
The Edward B. Greene Collection 1943.644
The artist, Horace Hone, signed the miniature in the lower right with the monogram HH.
The sitter of this portrait has been called “Mrs. Close” at least from 1929, when Edward Greene purchased the miniature from the dealer Leo Schidlof. The reason for this identification is, however, unknown, as there is no inscribed reference to Mrs. Close on the miniature or any of its supporting materials. Like so many of Horace Hone’s female sitters, her gown and hair are ornamented with strands of pearls, and she is set against an olive green background. Her brown, curly hair falls over her shoulders, dressed high with a pearl ornament on the right side. She has large, dark brown eyes and rosy cheeks and wears a plum-colored dress with a lace fichu around the neckline. The sitter also dons a miniature with the portrait turned toward her chest, exposing the back, which is ornamented with plaited hair. It is noteworthy that the miniature appears this way; even if it had been facing forward, its portrait would not have been legible to the viewer. The decision to place the back foremost underscores the highly private nature of the miniature portrait and its significance for the sitter, who was perhaps accustomed to wearing her miniature with the portrait turned toward her body. This manner of wearing miniatures was adopted by both men and women and was a popular vignette in sentimental novels and poems of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
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