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Maker(s):Perkins, Sarah (1771-1831)
Title:portrait: Mary Bushnell Perkins
Date Made:1785-1795
Materials:pastel crayon, paper, canvas, gilding, wood
Place Made:United States; Connecticut; Plainfield
Measurements:Frame: 25 3/4 x 22 3/4 in; 65.4 x 57.8 cm; Stretcher: 19 1/8 x 16 1/4 in; 48.6 x 41.3 cm
Accession Number:  HD 2010.16
Credit Line:Hall and Kate Peterson Fund for Paintings, Prints, Drawings and Photographs
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Pastel portrait of Mary Bushnell Perkins(1707-1795) attributed to her granddaughter, Sarah Perkins (1771-1831), a pastel portrait artist working in the New Haven and Plainfield, Connecticut, area who is known as the Beardsley Limner. The sitter is identified on the front of the frame: "MARY BUSHNELL PERKINS / SARAH PERKINS (THE BEARDSLEY LIMNER)" and has a period inscription in ink on paper now applied to the reverse: "Mary Bushnell, married Dr. Joseph Perkins, July 23, 1730." There is also a label pasted on the reverse of this painting from the Connecticut Historical Society exhibition, "Connecticut Pastels," held in Hartford in 1959, which is typed: "MRS. JOSEPH (MARY BUSHNELL) PERKINS / (1707-1795) / Artist: SARAH PERKINS / Lent by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Armistead Coit." According to information in the data file, this portrait was purchased at Richardsons, Bourne Auction Rooms in England. This portrait of Mary Bushnell Perkins is a part of an important group of portraits made by Sarah Perkins early in her career. Mary Bushnell Perkins was the daughter of Dr. Caleb Bushnell of Norwich, Connecticut, and became the second wife of Dr. Joseph Perkins (1704-1794) in 1730. Dr. Joseph Perkins (see portrait, HD 1367.1) was Sarah Perkins's paternal grandfather. This Mary Bushnell Perkins portrait is part of the group that included Sarah's father, Dr. Elisha Perkins (1741-1799), Mrs. Elisha (Sarah Douglas) Perkins (1744-1795), and her brother Elisha Perkins, Jr. (1763-1840), all of which were published in "Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin" (October, 1959) and were owned at that time by Charles Armistead Coit, a Perkins family descendent. Along with the Dr. Joseph Perkins portrait, Historic Deerfield owns a portrait of perhaps her older sister, Mary Perkins Merwin (1765-1793) (HD 1367.2), which descended with Sarah's portrait of her grandfather Dr. Joseph Perkins (indicating a family relationship), and Sarah Perkins's "Little Boy Whittling" (HD 2000.2). Most of Sarah Perkins's portraits are dated in the 1790s. This may be explained by her mother's death in 1795 when Sarah Perkins, the fourth of ten children, took charge of the household, which included four younger siblings. Her father died in 1799, and in 1801, Sarah married General Lemuel Grovesnor (1752-1833), a widower with five children, and they had four more children. The sitter is shown in a quarter length view of her head and shoulders, wearing a white bonnet with a dark brown ribbon; the bonnet is gathered closely around her face and tied under her chin. Her face is shown with details of a small peak of light colored hair on her forehead, thin raised eyebrows, brown almond-shaped eyes, and a small closed mouth. She is shown wearing a thin gold chain choker around neck and a white shawl with lace edge over a brown dress. The background is a mottled brown gray throughout. Condition: The portrait is in good condition with original construction of paper mounted on canvas and tacked to four stretchers. The portrait is held in the original molded wood and gilt decorated frame; the frame has been regilt and lettering added to the front, possibly in 1959. The portrait shows an area of water staining along the bottom edge and some areas of loss to the pastel along the top edge.


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