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Inscription

probably falsely signed and dated, across center reverse in brown ink or paint: Margaret Allen / Drawn and Colored by / Claypole Philä 1746

Provenance

(Rose M. de Forest, New York); sold 23 November 1923 to Thomas B. Clarke [1848-1931], New York, as a portrait of Margaret Hamilton Allen by James Claypoole;[1] sold by Clarke's executors to (M. Knoedler & Co., New York), from whom it was purchased 29 January 1936, as part of the Clarke collection, by the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift to NGA, 1947.

Exhibition History
1924
Exhibition of the Earliest Known Portraits of Americans by Painters of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, The Union League Club, New York, March 1924, no. 5, as Margaret Hamilton Allen by James Claypole.
1928
Portraits by Early American Artists of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Collected by Thomas B. Clarke, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1928-1931, unnumbered and unpaginated catalogue, as Margaret Hamilton Allen by James Claypoole.
Bibliography
1928
Cuthbert, Lee. "The Thomas B. Clarke Collection of Early American Portraits." American Magazine of Art 19 (1928): 295.
1932
Sherman, Frederic Fairchild. Early American Paintings. New York and London, 1932: 55.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 158, repro., as American (?).
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 306, as Unknown [Formerly Considered American].
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 409, repro., as Unknown Nationality 18th Century.
1992
Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 314-315, repro. 314.
Technical Summary

The canvas is fairly tightly plain woven; it is unlined, and remains on its original stretcher. The ground is light gray, thinly applied. The composition is painted within a brown feigned oval. The painting is executed in thin, fluid, opaque layers with semitransparent glazes in the shadows and some low impasto; glazes have been lost or have faded. The thick, opaque paint on the bodice fastenings may originally have been modified by dark glazes, now faded. There are few losses, but the paint is abraded throughout, presumably due to overcleaning; in the face much of the paint has been abraded down to the gray ground. The natural resin varnish has not discolored.