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Maker(s):Bascom, Ruth Henshaw
Culture:American (1772-1848)
Title:drawing: portrait of a young woman
Date Made:1835-1840
Materials:pastel, paper, wood, glass
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Deerfield area (probably)
Measurements:overall: 19 x 14 in.; 48.26 x 35.56 cm
Accession Number:  HD 1745A
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

Bust-length, pastel portrait of a right profile of a young woman who has black hair held up with a large comb and ringlets in front of the ears, wearing a white lace collar and black dress, and with a river with small boats, green grass, stylized trees and blue sky in the background. The label accompaning the drawing reads (incorrectly): "Painted by the late George Fuller-Hattie Sheldon, Deerfield, Mass. Owned by Mrs. Charlotte Boyden who died 3/8/1913 and left it to Elsie Putnam Faribank." Although unsigned, the drawing has been attributed to Ruth Henshaw Bascom (1772-1848). Hattie Sheldon Boyden (1873-1893) was the only child of Charlotte Gildawee Boyden (1849-1913) and Azariah Coooley Boyden (1832-1904) who married in 1867 and lived in South Deerfield. It is unclear how this earlier drawing was identified as Hattie Sheldon Boyden. Born in Leicester, Mass., Ruth Henshaw Bascom, the daughter of William Henshaw (1735-1820) and Phebe Swan Henshaw (1753-1808), was raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she married her first husband, Asa Miles in 1804 and who died in 1805, and her second husband, the Rev. Ezekiel Lysander Bascom (1777-1841) in 1806. The Rev. Bascom served as minister of the Congregational Church in Phillipston, Mass., for 21 years. In 1820 he was dismissed by his congregation and the Bascoms moved to Ashby, Mass., where he served a church for 14 years. After his retirement, Bascom spent winters in Savannah, Ga., with his daughter, but Ruth Bascom stayed in New England visiting with friends and relatives. Around 1839 they moved to Fitzwilliam, N.H., where he seems to have served a church on a semi-retired basis and died in 1841. Ruth Bascom spent her remaining years boarding in Ashby and traveling throughout Massachusetts and Maine, and south to Savannah, Charleston, and Norfolk.. Ruth Henshaw Bascom is an example of an artist whose work progressed from a hobby to a professional career. As a minister's wife, Bascom began drawing as a pastime, but was soon traveling to other areas to draw portraiture on commission. Ruth Bascom's career is documented not only by her portraiture but also by the artist's personal journals, which she meticulously maintained from 1789 to 1846 and in which she recorded making over a thousand portraits for money, services in kind, and as tokens of affection. In 1801, she made what appears to be the first entry concerning the profiles for which she is famous; the frequency of these entries increases in the 1820s and 1830s. The largest number of surviving profile portraits have been found in western Massachusetts. Bascom rendered all her portraits in life-size profile. In order to create a realistic image, she first outlined a cast shadow of the sitter on her drawing paper, and then colored the picture using pastel crayons.


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