While adherents of the Boston tradition often hired models or used family members in their compositions, the grandness of the room and various art objects suggests the subject is a person of stature. Our research into the Davenport name resulted in an influential family of Bath, New York, specifically, U. S. Congressman Ira Davenport (1841-1904) and his wife Katherine (Sharpe) Davenport (1860-1945). The Steuben County Historical Society, currently located in a stately home in Bath once owned by the Davenports, believes the lovely lady in yellow is Katherine Davenport, however further research is needed to determine the setting as the arched marble fireplace is not a feature of the Historical Society’s building and Ira Davenport’s family owned a number of properties in the Bath area, several of which no longer exist, most notable among them a mansion called “Riverside.”
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This painting is framed with a period frame, likely the original. It was recently restored.
Ellen Day Hale was born into a prominent New England family, and, like her younger brother Philip Hale, was encouraged to pursue the fine arts from an early age. Her first teacher was likely her aunt, the watercolorist Susan Hale, and in 1873 she attended William Rimmer’s artistic anatomy classes. Ellen Hale began training with Helen Knowlton and William Morris Hunt in 1874, and after the classes were handed over to Knowlton, she joined efforts and taught a few lessons. The two women became close companions, and in the late 1870s they took Hunt’s advice to travel abroad to further develop their education. The pair left in the early 1880s for a nine month trip to Europe, where Hale enrolled at the Académie Julian and worked in the atelier of Carolus Duran in France. Upon returning to Boston Hale taught art classes at the Marlborough Street School, while also completing portrait commissions.
Collection, Orlando, Florida
To private collection, Orlando, Florida, 2014 to present
(verso of board in blue) Portrait of / Mrs. Ira Davenport / New York 1893 December / by Ellen D. Hale
Pastel board maker’s stamp on verso (P. L. Breveté, Paris, winner of Honorable Mention at the Exposition Universelle in 1855)