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Behold the Labour of my Tender Age: Children and Their Samplers

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Emily

ca. 1845
41 x 30 in. (104.1 x 76.2 cm)

Susan C. Waters
American (Binghampton, NY, 1823 - 1900, Trenton, NJ)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of the Family of Merritt Barker
Accession Number: 1977.179
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Location: Not currently on view

Portraits with a characteristic flat quality, distorted proportions, and attention to patterned detail were commonly painted by self-trained, itinerant (traveling) artists. For many families, these portraits were the only record of a relative’s appearance.

Although this work is not signed, it is attributed to Susan Waters because it resembles other portraits of children that she did sign. Waters often placed her sitters in the foreground of an outdoor setting, looking out at the viewer with a gaze while holding something in their hands. Waters was born in Binghamton, New York. She taught herself to paint and traveled in the region of Pennsylvania and New York’s Southern Tier from 1843 to 1845. Later in her career, she turned from portraiture to still life and animal paintings, and became well-known for her paintings of the sheep that she raised at her home in Bordentown, New Jersey.

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