Mary Comstock Alfay (?)

  • Unidentified, Mary Comstock Alfay (?), ca. 1835, watercolor on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer, 1999.27.84

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It is not always possible to identify the sitter in a miniature portrait, and research is still being done on some of the works in the Museum’s collection. Miniatures became popular in England during the early 1700s, commissioned by wealthy families on the occasions of births, engagements, weddings, and bereavements. These paintings, elaborately set into lockets or brooches, provided the wearer with a sentimental connection to a loved one. The back of the miniature often revealed a lock of the sitter’s hair, symbolizing affection, commitment, or loss. The daguerreotype, invented in 1839, provided a cheaper, faster alternative, and portrait miniatures grew less popular. At the turn of the twentieth century, with the establishment of the American Society of Miniature Painters, miniatures enjoyed a brief revival.

Title
Mary Comstock Alfay (?)
Artist
Date
ca. 1835
On View
Not on view.
Dimensions
image (oval): 2 15/16 x 2 1/4 in. (7.4 x 5.7 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer

Mediums
Mediums Description
watercolor on paper
Classifications
Keywords
  • Portrait female – Alfay?, Mary Comstock – profile
  • Portrait female – Alfay?, Mary Comstock – waist
Object Number
1999.27.84
Palette
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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