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Portrait of Sophia Josephine Dixon

ca. 1850-1860
50 1/4 x 40 1/8 in. (127.6 x 101.9 cm)

Jefferson Gauntt
United States (1806 - 1864)

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. George B. Penny
Accession Number: 1942.45
Location: Currently on view
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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.

Artist's monogram, lower left: Scotch thistle

Related Objects
52.35 Gauntt, Jefferson Portrait of Angeline Wildey Dixon circa 1850-1860
52.36 Gauntt, Jefferson Portrait of Hiram Westley Dixon circa 1850-1860

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About Face: Copley’s Portrait of a Colonial Silversmith About Face: Copley’s Portrait of a Colonial Silversmith explores the lives and work of two artists within colonial Boston prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution: painter John Singleton Copley and silversmith Nathaniel Hurd. In addition to focusing upon paintings by Copley and silver pieces by Hurd, these works and other objects put into context the daily life of colonial Boston. Primary source documents (art works, objects, and written texts) provide students with a view of the experiences of men and women who were alive around the time of the American Revolution.

Students will develop critical looking and thinking skills as they gain experience in interpreting historical documents; analyze different interpretations of a key political turning point in American history through the study of visual and written documents of the Boston Massacre; explore important social issues through portraiture.; and evaluate the colonial American economy through primary source documents, like Nathaniel Hurd’s Table of Conversions and a colonial coin.

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