Miniature portrait of Emma P. Pickering
Moses B. Russell (1809-1884)
Boston, Massachusetts, 1846
Watercolor on ivory, 1 3/8 x 7/8 inches, in the original engine-turned gold locket brooch with hinged cover.
Inscribed on piece of paper attached to back of ivory: “Painted by / M B Russell”
The interior of the cover engraved in script lettering: Emma P. Pickering / born Nov 3rd 1845 / Died April 18th 1846”
In the article “Moses B. Russell, Yankee miniaturist,” Antiques, November 2002, p. 163, authors Randall L. Holton and Charles A. Gilday noted that “One of Russell’s most colorful and endearing miniatures is the locket portrait of Emma P. Pickering. Little Emma, daughter of Boston car builder Washington Pickering died at the age of five months in 1846. Although executed as a memorial, the portrait depicts the infant as very much alive, animated in large part by the riot of bright color that envelops her, from the green-checked dress and coral necklace to the piercing blue and peach background. Her oversized innocent eyes speak to the viewer and suggest her continuing presence, confirming the belief that her passing ‘was but the mortal breath suspended and the spiritual inspiration begun.’”