Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Portrait of an 17C New England British-American Woman

Maria Catherine Smith (c. 1670-1706), c. 1690 

Previous New England artists worked in the Elizabethan court style, including the unknown painter who executed portraits of the Freake family. That style emphasized line and the decorative use of color, whereas baroque painters strove to convey the effects of light and shadow to create believable illusions of forms in space. This portrait typified the baroque style through the artist's concern with modeling as well as with his relatively somber palette and free brushwork.The American Antiquarian Society, which owns this painting, tells us that among Smith's paintings, Maria Catherina Smith borrows most directly from baroque conventions. Smith painted oval spandrels as a framing device and represented his daughter in a décolleté dress typically found in late-seventeenth-century British mezzotint portraits of aristocratic and royal women.