1796 & 1799 Mary Way Dressed Miniatures
My grandfather was from Galveston and went to college in Connecticut, met and married my grandmother, whose family still had the royal charter on her home. When she returned to Texas, she brought ancestors with her. Her great-great-great-aunt and uncle. His name was Frederick Seymour and his wife was Prudence Miner. Her picture was done in 1799, his was done three years earlier, and they've descended in the family ever since.
And where did they live, Peter?
He was a sea captain and merchant in Hartford, Connecticut. She was from New London, Connecticut.
And you know a little bit about the artist. And can you tell us?
Well, I'd not known anything until an article in the magazine Antiques, a wonderful article on a woman name of Mary Way, from New London. And I wrote a letter to the author of the article. He felt it was an easy attribution to Miss Way. That's about as far as I can go with it.
Well, this is an example of wonderful things coming in a small package. Mary Way was a very versatile American artist, specializing in portrait miniatures. And what is so marvelous about her work is, she's the only American miniaturist that we know of that worked in a three-dimensional manner called dressed miniatures. She managed to create a three-dimensional effect by painting in watercolor and then actually picking out the clothing with scraps of fabric that she would cut and fold and then touch up with paint on top of that. Neither of these are in their original frames, I should point out, but the detail and the wonderfulness of Mary's technique certainly shines. In her portrait, we have this incredible ability to pick out detail: the hat, its many layers, its see-through quality. And down on the arm, her dress actually has sleeves of a very light gauze material, and you can just make out little details of flowers which are embroidered into that gauzing. This is an incredibly difficult thing to do effectively. She certainly deserves her newfound fame as one of the great women artists, as well as American miniaturists of the late 18th, early 19th century. She was born in 1769 in New London and died there in the early 19th century. Well, they are superlative examples, and I would conservatively estimate that these would be in the $20,000 to $30,000 range.
Nice to know.
Heavens! Yes, I had no idea.
Well, you've started off well by having them properly, professionally conserved, and I know you'll treasure them.
I certainly will. Thank you so very much.
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