I am very excited to offer this exquisite example of 18th century American folk art, likely done by a young girl. This beautiful watercolor painting on laid paper is titled "Courtship" and depicts a young couple cuddling in the home best room. They each sit upon Windsor bow back chairs with enormous ballooning backs. To the young lady's side sits a candlestand with Queen Ann feet. Atop the candlestand burns a candle in a hogscraper candlestick. To the right side of the painting is a fireplace with andirons and a brick heart hosts a blazing fire. The fact that the perspective is very odd for the fireplace lends credence to the assumption that this was painted by a self-taught or academy for young girls-taught artist. The young lady wears a very low cut blue dress with a white tucker filling in her bosom. The gentleman wears his best long coat with tails, yellow pants and a weskit that may be patterned. He leans into her as his arm drapes her shoulders and he holds her hand in his. The bottom portion of the page bears this lovely poem:
A fair one new attracts his mind,
He seeks her company
Contented in each others arms
They pafs the night away
The borders of the paper show clever border devices such as diamonds, alternately colored rectangles with a diamond and dot pattern in each, and a leaf pattern separating the painting subject matter from the poem. The artist was obviously very observant of decorative devices.
There has been some professional quality paper conservation at 3 o'clock and the lower left corner. There is light evidence that tears were taped. The tape was carefully removed and very good quality conservation has repaired the tears with no evidence of tape or glue. Whoever did this conservation was really good….wish I could find that person! Other than those repairs, there is some darkening at the left and bottom edges, expected toning to the paper and some fading to the watercolor. I see no evidence of inpainting. I've lightly hinged this exceptional piece of folk art on acid-free paper and framed it in a really spectacular period paint decorated frame with flat edge (both the flat profile and the ledge type border are painted with coordinating by different techniques) in black or brown over red. The frame measures 12" x 14 1/2". The painting is circa 1790. The frame is a bit later at circa 1850, but the paint decoration is so evocative of the early American love of color and is so spectacular that I could resist putting them together.