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

Friday, January 11, 2019

Emma Catherine Embury



This portrait of Emma Catherine Embury (1806-1863) hangs  in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
Emma Catherine Embury was a popular writer of children's stories, poems, and essays that appeared in leading periodicals during the first half of the nineteenth century. This view of Emma, with her direct gaze and confident pose, aligns with her daughter Anne K. Sheldon's description of her: “The peculiar melodiousness other verse rendered her one of the most graceful of songwriters, while the impassioned earnestness, her scorn of injustice her quick sympathy with the oppressed, found expression in her poems, and [runs] like an electric thread throughout them.”

In the early 1830s, the painter Henry Inman (1801-1846) portrayed Emma alongside her husband, Daniel, a successful New York banker. The work prompted Edgar Allan Poe to comment on the artist's ability to capture Emma's “intellectual and expressive” nature. Decades later, Jacob Hart Lazarus completed this copy of the original portrait for the Embury family. -- National Portrait Gallery

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