Three Christian Virtues, Faith, Hope and Charity have always been important to the teachings of young women. Allegorical figures representing these virtues are often seen in the artwork of young ladies schooled at American girls’ academies in the early 19th century—both painting and needlework. Presented in this young lady’s art is “Hope” depicted as a woman dressed in classical gown, leaning on an anchor, and pointing to the sky. The finger held to the sky may mean this painting is a memorial for a recently departed loved one or that a loved one is at sea and Hope is asking God to watch over him.
This simple, elegant yet naïve watercolor might have been painted as practice for a needlework that the young artist was planning as her final project before graduating from the academy or it may have been a whim painted for her own pleasure. We love the fact that the painting suggests a plinth in the background by outline only and gives the barest of shading to Hope’s wrapped white gown. This enhances the impact from the color used for Hope’s curly brown hair, her facial features which add a pop of the red lips over pale skin ones, her arms and hands which continue the paleness of her skin. Then your eyes are immediately drawn to the anchor which is solid and heavily painted in grey. Finally, almost whimsically, one bright blue shoe peaks out from under her skirt as we see that she casually crosses her legs to rest her toe to the ground. It gives great pleasure to us to present this American folk painting for your consideration. Circa 1810, framed in a later 19th century frame in a decorated gilded frame measuring 9 1/2" x 6 3/4". As the photos show, there are spot stains to the background but they do not diminish the impact of this simple folk painting.
Provenance: Collection of Helen Sutton, Dallas, TX (herself a student and assistant to Betty Ring).