Portrait of Sarah Larrabee Edes

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Portrait of Sarah Larrabee Edes

United States, circa 1760
Paintings
Oil on canvas
48 3/8 x 38 1/4 in. (122.87 x 97.16 cm)
Gift of Dr. Herbert and Elizabeth Sussman in honor of Saul and Ida Epstein (M.86.310.2)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

No signed portraits by Badger are known, but on the basis of the style of four documented portraits a large group of paintings similar in style have been attributed to him....
No signed portraits by Badger are known, but on the basis of the style of four documented portraits a large group of paintings similar in style have been attributed to him. The portrait of Sarah Larrabee Edes possesses the characteristics of this style: fairly pastel, chalky colors, outlining of the edges of the linen cuffs and collars, indistinct backgrounds with feathery foliage, and an insufficiency of foreshortening that makes the figures seem to float upon the surface of the painting. Since Badger’s portraits also are not dated, the progression of his stylistic development is not clear, making it hard to assign a date to the present painting. It has been dated about 1760 because that approximate date has been assigned to the portrait of the sitter’s father, Captain John Larrabee. Badger’s Captain John Larrabee, c. 1760 (Worcester [Mass.] Art Museum), is his only full-length adult portrait and easily his finest effort. The subject, born in 1686, was captain lieutenant, or commanding officer, of Castle William (afterwards Fort Independence) in Boston Harbor for nearly forty years before his death on February 11, 1762. In 1710 he married Elizabeth Jordan, and the couple had three children, a son and two daughters. The younger daughter, Sarah, was born on July 12, 1719. On December 21, 1738, she married Thomas Edes (1715-1794), a ship joiner, or carpenter, of Boston. They had ten children. Thomas Edes was one of the executors of Captain Larrabee’s will. An unusual feature of the portrait of Sarah Larrabee Edes is the evidence of significant changes in design, particularly in the position of the hands. Her proper right hand originally was painted as extending further into the lap, and her proper left hand, with its linen sleeve hanging downward, was raised toward her bosom, as though tucking a flower into the neckline, as in Robert Feke’s Mrs. James Bowdoin II, 1748 (Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine).
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About The Era

Although the thirteen colonies that would constitute the United States of America were founded by several different nations, by 1763 (the end of the French and Indian Wars), the British controlled mos...
Although the thirteen colonies that would constitute the United States of America were founded by several different nations, by 1763 (the end of the French and Indian Wars), the British controlled most of North America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. In many respects the American colonies functioned like an English province. Culturally they were largely British; from interior design and dress to painted portraits, wealthy colonists emulated the London fashions of the period. However, there was often a time lag, as examples of the finest British furniture, household goods, and decorative items such as paintings had to be transported across the ocean.

At first the only trained artists and artisans in the colonies were emigrants from London who thought fame would be easier to achieve in the less competitive atmosphere of Boston or Philadelphia. By the end of the eighteenth century, this traffic had reversed somewhat, as American artists went to London for their training. Portraits were the most popular genre, since British citizens everywhere wanted visual records of their families and heroes. Historical and literary subjects, such as those by Benjamin West, were usually only painted in London; their appreciation required a more educated audience than was the case with many colonists. The pervasive influence of Britain would continue to affect the development of culture in the United States long after the Revolutionary War had severed the Crown’s political authority.
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Bibliography

  • About the Era. LACMA collections online. Retrieved on 12/30/2009 from http://collectionsonline.lacma.org/mweb/aa/abouttheera/early_american_paintings_abouttheera.asp
  • Fort, Ilene Susan and Michael Quick.  American Art:  a Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection.  Los Angeles:  Museum Associates, 1991.