Double Watercolor Portrait Miniatures
att: Dalee Family
The Dalee's profile portraits are honest chronicles of the working people of western New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, often displaying their finest lace and fancy chairs. Justus also produced family records, recording the births, marriages and deaths of his clientele as well as his own family.
As with most artists, the Dalee s style evolved and changed over the years. In the later work, dating from about 1840 and from which this is a representation, Justus began drawing portraits exclusively in profile . . . "defining the subject s face in watercolor, the artist then rendered facial features in pink, drew the coat, vest and tie in black and outlined the suit collar and lapels with glazed highlights. In keeping with the fashions of the period, Dalee also delineated individual sections of the man s hair with smooth meticulous brushstrokes. This special treatment was a feature particularly suited to profile portraiture and proved a successful focus for his work", according to the biographical material found in Folk Art s Many Faces . . . Portraits in the New York State Historical Association. The Dalee's work is represented in the collections of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center in Williamsburg and the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown, New York as well as in other numerous museums and collections.
This particular pair of watercolor portrait miniatures appear to be family members . . . Dalee descended from the Minton/Beaugard families in New Orleans. On the reverse of the lady is written:
Theodosia Reeve Minton (Minten)
Born June 1st 1790
Died in the year 1852
Mother of H. M. Dalee
These are watercolor profiles. They were with a third one of a
Gentleman, on which was painted at the top, "Taken in 1846.
On the reverse of the young man in this frame is written 1846.
While Justus Dalee was the head of a family group that produced quite similar portraits, recent research has found that many times they worked together on portraits and often portraits attributed to Justus were actually the work of his son Amon or his brother Richard, as they all painted in a similar style.
The fact that his brother, Richard was married to Hanna Maria Dalee (H. M. Dalee) whose mother was Theodosia Reeve Minton would strongly indicate that this pair most likely was the work of Richard Dalee, though Justus was living in New York at the time as was his brother. (This information was provided by Suzanne and Michael Payne, authors of To Please the Eye: Justus DaLee and His Family and published in Folk Art Magazine, Volume 29, Number4/Winter 2004/2005, by the American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY.) They go on to further suggest that "Knowledge that some portraits are the work of both hands and the similarity of these few signed examples, suggests that we should not distinguish between the portraits by the various family members at this time. Unless a portrait is signed, it should be attributed to the DaLee family."
Matted and presented in a mahogany veneer frame with wavy glass, the portraits are in exceptionally fine condition and are excellent representations of the work of this very talented family of artists. Overall size is 9" long x 7" high.
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