Carpenter, Meriva - portrait of self

This miniature portrait is very special on several counts. Firstly, it is by an early 19C female artist, secondly it is clearly identified as a self portrait, and thirdly, it has now been reunited with another self portrait by the same artist which was acquired five years ago.

As one can imagine, it was quite an exciting moment to reunite the two portraits.

The artist and sitter is Meriva Carpenter (28 April 1802 - 24 July, 1887).

The inscription on the reverse reads; "Meriva. daughter of Doct. Ruggles and Juliana Pierce Carpenter was born April 28, 1802 in Ellington, Tolland Co, Conn. Removed 1814 to Greenwich, Hampshire Co. Mass. Married in Tolland Feb 27, 1820 to Eli, son of Doct. Eli and Abigail Baker Carpenter of Orford, Grafton Co. New Hampshire. Removed March 1820 from Greenwich to Homer, Cortland Co. NY for a permanent residence. Painted by herself, Homer, Cortland Co. NY."

Research has shown that Eli Carpenter was a cousin of Meriva and she married him when she was only 17 years and ten months old.

It is a little hard to pick her age in the miniature, but it would seem to have been painted around 1820. Perhaps as her hair is down, it was painted when she was 17, just before her marriage.

Meriva likely added the actual inscription at a much later date, as the writing is so similar to her later self portrait of 1838.

Both miniatures can be seen in the combined image, the earlier one having a sight size of 38mm x 50mm and the later one being 55mm x 65mm.

Both cases are much later than the dates of the miniatures, but it does seem likely that Meriva re-cased the miniatures herself, some years after she painted them.

Also showing are the inscriptions from the 1838 self portrait, which in addition to the portrait, contains a sachet of Meriva's hair, identified in her own hand.

The 1838 inscription is very similar to the 1820 inscription and reads; "Meriva Carpenter - painted by herself - 1838. Meriva daughter Dr Ruggles and Juliana Pierce Carpenter was born April 28, 1802 in Ellington Tolland Co. Conn. Married to Eli, Feb 1820 son of Dr Eli and Abigail Baker Carpenter of Orford, Grafton Co. New Hamps here at Tolland, Tolland Co, Conn. Then moved in March 1820 from Greenwich, Hampshire Co. Mass. to Homer, Cortland Co NY for a permanent home".

More information about Meriva, including miniature she painted of her parents can be seen at Carpenter, Meriva - portrait of self

The Cincinnati Art Museum has a miniature portrait of Zander Carpenter (2004.404) painted by Meriva Carpenter. 719, 1358.

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