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Thomas Wix Borden at the age of Two Years

ca. 1820 Unidentified watercolor on paper image: 4 3/8 x 3 1/4 in. (11.1 x 8.3 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer 1999.27.72.3 Not currently on view

Luce Center Label

Thomas Hicks Borden, the son of John and Comfort Cory, was born in 1820 and this miniature depicts him at two years of age. Thomas’s portrait is very different from those of his parents because the artist painted the child’s entire figure, a more expensive option for a painter’s clients. Thomas wears a vibrant red gown in a period when children of both sexes wore dresses until the age of three or four. Skirts symbolized dependence, but Thomas holds a whip to establish that he is male. Unlike his parents, who appear before muted brown backgrounds, Thomas stands in a landscape scene, possibly an orchard, to suggest his parents’ goal of “cultivating” a successful upbringing for their son.



Portrait male - Borden, Thomas Wix - child

Portrait male - Borden, Thomas Wix - full length

painting - miniature

paint - watercolor