This is a wonderful piece of American folk art, attributed to Elizabeth Glaser and formerly exhibited at the Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington, Massachusetts. These "Fashionable Ladies" bear some of the best qualities of early 19th century folk art by American women that has been touted by a variety of books and museum exhibits. Although naïve in their execution, Elizabeth Glaser's compositions show careful organization and draftsmanship. She includes wonderful elements such as the lightly painted 8-pointed stars in the upper corners of this composition and red scrolls that playfully represent growing flowers. Little is known about Elizabeth Glaser and her work is sought after and quite rare. Another of Glaser's watercolors, "Lady in a Yellow Dress Watering Roses", is published in the two books listed below and is held within the Washington State University Collection of Colonial Paintings. My research shows that known works by Ms. Glaser are rare indeed. Two watercolor and calligraphic compositions and a framed watercolor titled "Melon on a Vine" were sold at auction in 1986. "Lady in a Yellow Dress Watering Roses" by Elizabeth Glaser was exhibited at The Virginia Museum, Richmond, November 29, 1977-January 8, 1978 in an exhibition titled "American folk painting : selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Wiltshire III in Titles". "Lady in a Yellow Dress Watering Roses" was sold at Sotheby's New York in 1981 for $5500.00. The Smithsonian Art Museum's Art Inventory Catalog "SIRIS", includes three paintings by Glaser: "Lady Watering Roses", Melon on a Vine" and "Girl with a Feathered Bonnet". Unfortunately, SIRIS does not include images of these paintings and I have been unable to find images of anything other than "Lady in a Yellow Dress Watering Roses". One auction reference refers to Elizabeth Glaser as being from the Baltimore area, but I have not been able to confirm this by any other source.
The condition of this watercolor is wonderful with bright vibrant colors. There is a very slight stain to the left side of the painting which is not noticeable except with careful examination. The gilt frame is period and may be original. The frame has quite a bit of wear, some edges go through to the gesso or to the wood, but most spots have been touched up and the frame, while far from perfect, displays this rare watercolor very well. The painting is backed with archival ragboard that bears the exhibition label from "Reflections of 19th Century America: Folk Art From the Collection of Sybil and Arthur Kern". You will find an important published article by the Kerns referenced several times on my Folk Portrait Artists page. The couple was and Mr. Kern continues to be an important and often published scholar in the area of American folk art. Circa 1815. Framed size 9 1/8" x 7 5/8". Sight size 6 3/4" x 5 1/4".
Provence: ex-Sybil & Arthur Kern Collection.
Exhibition: "Reflections of 19th Century America: Folk Art From the Collection of Sybil and Arthur Kern", Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington, Massachusetts. Sept. 19, 1979 - June 15, 1980.
Bank, Mirra, Anonymous Was A Woman. St. Martin's Press, New York, 1979. 56.
Lipman, Jean, Warren Elizabeth V., Bishop, Robert, Young America A Folk-Art History, Hudson Hills, Press in association with the Museum of American Folk Art, New York, 1986. 23.
Smithsonian Art Inventory Catalog, Smithsonian Institute Research Information System, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2012. Unfortunately, the link for the Glaser search is too long to copy into this webpage. So click this link to SIRIS and then search "Artist Keyword" and type in Glaser Elizabeth.