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William Boswell Lamb

ca. 1795 Unidentified watercolor on ivory 1 5/8 x 1 1/8 in. (4.1 x 3.0 cm) oval Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase 1980.126.4 Not currently on view


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This miniature was probably painted to commemorate the 1794 marriage of William Boswell Lamb and Margaret Stuart Kerr. Mr. Lamb was an important political figure in Norfolk, Virginia, where he began his service as mayor in 1810. The couple’s son, William Wilson Lamb, was also involved in politics and was known for hiding the city’s silver mace beneath a fireplace hearth to protect it during the Civil War. The artist painted a vivid blue background to highlight the detailed costume of the elder Lamb. In his wife’s portrait, however, the subtle colors and delicate brushwork emphasize her wide eyes and tightly curled hair.

Keywords

Portrait male - Lamb, William Roswell - bust

painting - miniature

paint - watercolor

ivory