Miniature Memories

Kate Rosalie Dodge, 1854

John Wood Dodge (American, 1807–1893)

Watercolor on ivory

Before the invention of digital devices that would allow you to carry around photos of your loved ones, it was common to have a portrait artist to create a miniature likeness of a loved one.

A Mother's Pearls (Portraits of the Artist's Children), 1841

Thomas Seir Cummings (American, 1804–1894)

Watercolor on ivory

Often mini portraits would be mounted on jewelery and given as a birthday or anniversary gift. These tiny likenesses were also commissioned to celebrate births and engagements or to remember a loved one who passed away.

Portrait of a Lady, ca. 1827

Henry Inman (American, 1801–1846); Thomas Seir Cummings (American, 1804–1894)

Watercolor on ivory

At other times lovers would secretly give each other gift, that were cherished as well, but kept well hidden from others. Such as this "Self Portrait"of portraitist Sarah Goodridge, who gifted her bosom to Daniel Webster, a U.S. Senator, with whom she had a fling in 1828.

Beauty Revealed, 1828

Sarah Goodridge (American, 1788–1835)

Watercolor on ivory


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