"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Anna Payne Cutts

This 1812 - 1845 portrait of Anna Payne Cutts by Charles Bird King (after Gilbert Stuart) hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.
"Anna Payne Cutts was Dolley Madison's sister. Dolley, who was eleven years older and largely responsible for Anna's upbringing, always referred to her as her 'sister-child.' In 1804 Anna married Congressman Richard Cutts and stayed in Washington throughout the Madison presidency. After the Madisons retired to Montpelier, Dolley wrote to Anna, 'Let me hear from you directly that you'l [sic] come or you shall see me bounce in upon you some night from the boat, to force you all on board next day for Mont­pelier.' Anna died at age fifty-three of a heart con­dition. After James Madison's death in 1836, Dolley moved back to Washington, into the Cutts house, which still stands on the corner of Lafayette Square.

It has been suggested that the original artist, Gilbert Stuart, humorously inserted his profile, with his prominent nose, in the dark shadow to the right of Anna's head."  -- National Portrait Gallery

The Virginia Encyclopedia says this of this portrait.
"Anna Payne Cutts, the youngest sister of Dolley Madison, sits for a portrait in a fashionable French-style dress about the time of her marriage in March 1804 to Richard Cutts, a Massachusetts congressman. The renowned portraitist Gilbert Stuart created the original painting, and, according to family lore, he painted in his own profile, which included an outsized nose, in the billowing drapery behind his subject. Stuart also painted Richard Cutts about the same time.
After the deaths of both Anna and Richard Cutts, a family dispute arose between the Cutts's two sons over who would inherit the original Stuart portraits. Dolley Madison resolved the issue in an April 14, 1845, letter to both of her nephews, instructing them to have copies made of the original paintings by "the great colorist and delineator Sully" or a "more economical Artist." Charles Bird King was chosen to make the copies and each son kept one original Stuart and one copy. The portrait shown here, from the Virginia Historical Society, is the mid-nineteenth-century copy portrait painted by King."
The house that Anna Cutts shared with her husband Richard, shown here in a 1918-22 photo (LOC), is now known as Dolley Madison House.

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