PATIENCE LOVELL WRIGHT (AMERICAN 1725-1786). LARGE WAX PROFILE PORTRAIT OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, CIRCA 1784-1786.
Sold: $37,200 ($31,000)
A shoulder-length bust of Washington modeled in uncolored wax, displayed against a red velvet ground in an oval shadowbox frame. Wax portrait 9 ½ x 6 ¼ inches; frame 16 x 12 ¾ inches. The reverse of the case affixed with an old newsprint excerpt from “Men & Times of the Revolution: or Memoirs of Elkanah Watson, including Journals of Travels in Europe and America from 1777 to 1842.” It provides a personal account of Mrs. Wright, as well as Washington’s own description of Mrs. Wright’s son, Joseph Wright, modeling the plaster bust on which this wax portrait is based. Also affixed to the reverse are several handwritten notes regarding the portrait’s provenance.
Provenance: Henry Paul Beck (1802-1874) of Philadelphia, whose father was a friend of Washington’s according to Rembrandt Peale; to H.P. Beck’s daughter, Mrs. Isaac Harvey, who presented the wax profile portrait to her father’s physician and friend, Dr. Richard H. Harte of Philadelphia, 1897; thence by descent in the family. Exhibitions: The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Twenty-Ninth Annual Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1852, no. 382.
Literature: For information on the artist and an illustration of this portrait, see Ethel Stanwood Bolton, “Wax Portraits and Silhouettes” Boston: The Massachusetts Society of the Colonial Dames of America, 1914, pp. 12-17; see also D.R. Reilly, “Portrait Waxes: An Introduction for Collectors,” London: B.T. Batsford, 1953, pp. 80-81.