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Artist: Joseph Dunkerley
Title: Mrs. Ebenezer Storer II (Elizabeth Green) (1734 - 1774)
Date of object: ca. 1785
Medium: Watercolor on ivory
Dimensions: 1 3/16 x 1 1/16 in. (3 x 2.7 cm)
Credit line: John Hill Morgan, B.A. 1893, Fund
Accession number: 1949.97
Historical context: Miniatures and the Young Republic
Catalogue information »
The British-born Joseph Dunkerley limned Ebenezer Storer II and Elizabeth Green Storer, a marital pair of miniatures, after pastels by John Singleton Copley (1767-9, Private Collection). Housed in gold frames, the miniatures are set in bracelets of woven hair. These braided bracelets symbolize the couple's devotion to each other and their descendants' dedication to their memories.

The sitter, the daughter of Anna Pierce and Joseph Green, married Ebenezer Storer, a prosperous Boston merchant who was a Patriot and later the treasurer of Harvard College. Mrs. Storer died in 1774 at age 41, after nearly a quarter-century of married life. Her obituary lamented, "Those who knew her the most intimately, loved her the most sincerely. If she had a Fault, it was a too tnder Heart, and too great a fondness for her Friends, which must make their Loss the more painful."

During the Revolutionary War, Ebenezer Storer's business suffered and never fully recovered. In 1788 he was forced to sell much of his Boston real estate, including his mansion, where the pastels by Copley had hung in the dining room. Around this time, someone in the family commissioned Dunkerley to limn miniatures after Copley's pastels. These pictures recalled a time of greater stability, before the Revolution, before Elizabeth's death.

This marital portrait pair offers a palimpsest of family devotion through time: not only were the miniatures limned after pastels made a generation earlier, but the bracelets were updated by still later descendants. The exceptionally intricate bracelets are Victorian in sensibility and therefore date to the mid-nineteenth century. The decision to modernize the bracelets affirms the miniatures' continuing significance to the Storer family.

See related miniature: Ebenezer Storer II


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