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Robeson-Lea Family

Robeson-Lea Family
Artist
Auguste Edouart, 1788 - 1861
Sitter
Catherine Moore
Mary Bensell
Elizabeth Robeson
Mrs. Joseph Lea
Sarah Robeson
Joseph Lea, Jr.
Jonathan Robeson
Date
1843
Type
Silhouette
Medium
Black paper
Dimensions
Image: 53 x 87.5 cm (20 7/8 x 34 7/16")
Frame: 63.5 × 97.8 cm (25 × 38 1/2")
Topic
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Seating\Chair
Printed Material\Book
Costume\Dress Accessory\Eyeglasses
Printed Material\Document
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Table
Artwork
Architecture\Window
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Bookcase
Interior\Domestic
Home Furnishings\Mirror
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Seating\Sofa
Architecture\Door
Home Furnishings\Clock
Catherine Moore: Female
Mary Bensell: Female
Elizabeth Robeson: Female
Sarah Robeson: Female
Jonathan Robeson: Male
Joseph Lea, Jr.: Male
Mrs. Joseph Lea: Female
Mrs. Joseph Lea: Society and Social Change\Wife
Portrait
Place
United States\Pennsylvania\Philadelphia\Philadelphia
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Catrina B. Lee
Restrictions & Rights
CC0
Object number
S/NPG.80.23
Exhibition Label
When making silhouettes, Auguste Edouart would “deliberate in [his] mind upon the points, which come forward, and those that retire.” And because his hand needed to be as steady as possible, he avoided strong coffee, tea, and “spirits or any other excitements.” For members of the intermarried Robeson and Lea families, Edouart apparently cut individuals’ silhouettes on two different days. As in other individual and group portraits by Edouart, the sitters carry props: books, paper, spectacles, or a sewing bag. The silhouette hung above the sofa may represent a deceased relative. Members of the Robeson and Lea families were Quakers from the Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware, area. Their clothing marked their faith: note the distinctive bonnets that the five women wear. While disavowing other forms of portraiture, Quakers joined the rest of America in the “rage of silhouettes.” The Spartan simplicity of the art form aligned with the humility of their faith.
Al configurar sus siluetas, Auguste Edouart “decidía en [su] mente los puntos que debían acercarse y los que debían retirarse”. Y para asegurarse de tener buen pulso, evitaba el café fuerte, el té, los “licores y todo otro tipo de excitación”. En el caso de las familias Robeson y Lea, parientes casados entre sí, parece que Edouart cortó las siluetas en dos días. Como en otros de sus retratos individuales o grupales, los modelos llevan accesorios: libros, papel, gafas o un bolso de costura. La silueta que cuelga sobre el sofá podría representar a un familiar difunto. Los miembros de las familias Robeson y Lea eran cuáqueros del área de Filadelfia y Wilmington, en Delaware. Su vestimenta identifica su religión (nótense los típicos gorros de las cinco mujeres). Si bien rechazaban otras formas de retrato, los cuáqueros compartían con el resto del país “el furor por las siluetas”. La sencillez espartana de este arte iba a tono con la humildad que decretaba su fe.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery