02 July, 2011

A treasured painting

About twenty-five years ago I bought a small painting from the local thrift shop in Sydney.

I had seen it in the shop window and loved the quietness of it. I took it home and had it cleaned and reframed.
I've always had this painting hung on a wall in my house.
I never knew who had painted it until a name revealed itself after the cleaning.  Even then I couldn't find out anything about the artist.  I've been curious all these years because I've always admired the fine detailed work in this small painting which measures only 10 x 8 inches.

Since the advent of the internet and the wealth of information to be explored, I've finally found out who my mystery artist is.  The name on the painting is C B Presbrey which I have traced back as belonging to Clara Briggs Presbrey (1864-1946) an artist who lived and worked in Taunton, Massachusetts, US.  She specialised in miniature painting.  

I haven't been able to find any other work by this artist and I wonder if any others exist.  And how did this painting end up in a thrift shop on the other side of the world?

Painting by Clara Briggs Presbrey (1864-1946)

Larger than actual size close-up. Painting by Clara Briggs Presbrey (1864-1946)

The other mystery I've yet to solve is the identity of the subject.  For a while I thought it might be a portrait of Clara's cousin, Frank Presbrey, who had a significant reputation in the advertising industry in New York.  Then I thought it could be a portrait of her own father, Silas Dean Presbrey, well known in Taunton, MA, as a respected physician and educator.  Or it could be someone quite unrelated to Clara.

Meanwhile I continue to enjoy my little painting!

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