Portrait of Sophia Josephine Dixon
50 1/4 x 40 1/8 in. (127.6 x 101.9 cm)
(1806 - 1864)
Medium and Support:
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. George Barlow Penny
Location: Currently on view
Attributed to Jefferson Gauntt
American, 1806 – 1864
Sophia Josephine Dixon, born circa 1852 - date of death unknown
Hiram, Angeline and daughter, Sophia Josephine Dixon portraits are not signed or dated. We believe all three were painted by the same artist, Jefferson Gauntt. The Dixon family’s life dates have been obtained through research. Based on these dates we speculate the portraits were painted between 1840 and 1860.
Tombstone, Oct. 2010, Colleen Piccone
A favorite of MAG visitors, the portrait of Sophia Josephine Dixon was conserved in 2006 through a Lower Hudson Conference Conservation Treatment Grant and has been on view in the 19th century American gallery. We are happy to reunite her with her parents, Hiram and Angeline Dixon, whose portraits were conserved in 2008 through the Henry Luce Foundation American Art Conservation Grant. This is the first time that MAG has exhibited the portraits together as a family. They were given to the Gallery by Sophia Josephine’s daughter, Mrs. George B. Penny.
The Dixons’ daughter, Sophia Josephine, holds her pet goldfinch on a string, illustrating her patience and nurturing nature in training a wild bird as her pet. Her white dress with blue ribbon sash, lace pantaloons and straw hat are those of a well-bred young girl from a successful American family. In the early nineteenth century, girls were generally depicted in domestic settings. By 1831, however, “The Mother’s Book” by Lydia Child argued that girls as well as boys would benefit from open air and should be allowed to play outside.
The Dixon family lived north of New York City, first in Hudson, NY and then in Tarrytown, NY.
Excerpted from installation text, Oct. 2010
Colleen Piccone, Curatorial Dept.