Ammi Phillips (1788–1865)
A Portrait of Jeanette Payne, c. 1841
Oil on canvas, 33 1/2 x 28 in.
Provenance: by descent in the sitter’s family to Emily Marsh; Mary Allis; Stewart E. Gregory, Wilton, Connecticut, c. 1965; Alvin and Claude Bisnoff, until 2007
Literature: Barbara and Lawrence B. Holdridge, “Ammi Phillips: 1788-1865,” Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin 30, no. 4 (October 1965), 115, 135 (illustrated), no. 106; Mary Black, and Barbara C. and Lawrence B. Holdridge, Ammi Phillips: Portrait Painter 1788-1865 (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1969), 51, no. 224.
The sitter for this portrait, Jeanette Payne, was born in 1818. Although the painting has been dated to c. 1841, the stylized composition and planar modeling resemble Phillips’ work of the 1830s. As in Mary Hoyt, c. 1836 (Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford), Phillips portrayed the sitter with her elbows angled outward, one leaning on a pile of books on a table. This pose creates triangular negative spaces between the sitter’s arms and the narrow waist of her dress. These spaces echo both the triangular shape of her exposed neck and shoulders and the broadly triangular shape formed by her arms and shoulders leading up to her head. The slanting upper neck and three-quarters profile of the sitter interrupt this regularity, as do her hands, one of which holds an herb, while the other hangs limply from the table. In addition to carefully rendering the sitter’s pleasant features and confident gaze, Phillips paid a good deal of attention to her black dress, which is attractively modeled with white highlights and trimmed with crisp lace.
 Before their catalogue in Ammi Phillips: Portrait Painter 1788-1865, Barbara and Lawrence Holdridge had dated A Portrait of Jeanette Payne to c. 1838 in their 1965 Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin article.