Champlain, Elizabeth Way - portrait of a young lady

This miniature portrait is unsigned and the sitter is unknown.

However, the detail is excellent and the portrait has been attributed to Elizabeth Way Champlain (1771-1825) (also known as Betsey Way) who was born and lived in New London, CT. She was the sister of the miniaturist Mary Way and also the mother of the artist Eliza Champlain.

The reasons for the tentative attribution are some similarities with a profile miniature of a girl in a white dress by the artist and offered for sale by Elle Shushan in 2007. That miniature was later sold for $5250 as Lot 102 by Christie's, New York,  on 21-25 June 2010. It was described as; "ATTRIBUTED TO BETSY CHAMPLAIN (ACTIVE C. 1825)- A Profile Portrait Miniature watercolor on ivory - 2 in. hig.h Elizabeth (Betsy) Way Champlain, of New London Connecticut, maintained correspondence for many years with her sister, miniaturist Mary Way, and her daughter, miniaturist Elizabeth Champlain. The three women often referred to themselves as: "The Sisters of the Brush". For more information on this family of miniaturists, see MacMullen, Ramsay, Sisters of the Brush: Their Family, Art, life and Letters 1797-1833, (New Haven, 1997). Betsey Champlain's rare works can be found in the collections of the Wadsworth Atheneum and the Yale University gallery."

Although that was a profile portrait of a young lady, it was of similar proportions, with the head in the same position on the ivory and a clear space below the bust.

Both portraits show a great attention to the details of the sitter's hair and clothing. In addition, the frames are almost identical, being of relatively crude craftsmanship, but with beaded bezels front and rear and of a similar copper metal. The only discernible difference in the frames being minor differences in the hanger.

However, it is possibly by her sister Mary Way, or her daughter Eliza Champlain. For a comprehensive article about the Way sisters see an article by Catherine E Kelly at Common-place: Object Lessons: Miniature Worlds 1065

No comments: