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

Friday, February 1, 2019

Emma Catherine Embury

This silhouette of Emma Catherine Embury (1806-1863) by Auguste Edouart is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
Auguste Edouart makes clear some of Emma Catherine Embury’s roles: she was an “Authoress”, “wife of Daniel,” and “Daughter of Dr. James Manley.” Embury first published while a teenager, under the pseudonym "Ianthe." As an adult, her poems and stories appeared in widely read periodicals, such as Godey's Lady's Book. Like many other women writers of the time, her work focused on such themes as unrequited love and silent suffering. She also hosted literary salons at her commodious Brooklyn home.

Although Embury’s portrait lacks the extensive chalk or graphite highlights of other images by Edouart, he still provides many details. Note the spectacles that rest on her nose, the necklace or cord dangling on her chest, and the book she carries. He created her shadow by filling the area beneath her dress with wash (diluted ink). As is the case with other portraits, Edouart glued a pair of shoes on separately from the rest of her clothing. -- National Portrait Gallery

See Emma Embury's treatment of the Wild Honeysuckle in her book  American Wild Flowers in Their Native Haunts.

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