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Portrait of Mary (Browning) Crandall

Not on view

Portrait of Mary (Browning) Crandall

Artist: Artist unknown (probably United States)

Date: 1825
Medium: Oil on canvas mounted on cardboard
Overall: 29 11/16 x 25 3/8in. (75.4 x 64.5cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Mabel G. Harkness
Object number: 2000.3
Label Text
This authoritarian portrait of the Mohawk Valley pioneer, Mary Browning Crandall (1781-1858), descended through five generations of the sitter's family until it was donated to the museum by her great, great granddaughter. Mary Crandall's forebears came to this country from England in the 1640s. They settled in Boston and then moved to Rhode Island about a decade later.

In 1803 Mary Browning and John Crandall were married in Exeter, Rhode Island. Shortly thereafter they moved to Herkimer County, New York and purchased land in the Village of Norway. In 1813 John Crandall died, leaving Mary with seven young children and the need to earn a livelihood. An article about the Crandall family in a local newspaper, the Norway Tidings, on May 1, 1890 noted:

Mrs. Crandall was left with seven small children and the farm to care for, but she was equal to the task. She was a woman of great resolution and energy and a judicious manager. The business interests of the estate did not suffer materially from Mr. Crandall's death. She faithfully attended to out door work as well as in door.

Research is presently underway to determine who painted the portrait. Presumably, an itinerant artist working in central New York State executed it. Some of the stylistic characteristics in the work that will help in determining aurthorship include the white highlights in Mary's eyes, her thin lips and understated eyebrows. Other distinctive features are her short, unarticulated fingers, the awkward perspective of the book she is holding, the painterly highlights of her bonnet and the prominent fancy chair, or Boston-style rocker, in which she is seated.

Paul D. Schweizer
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