Saturday, April 27, 2013

What Is It? Where Is It? (April): Portrait of Ann Graeme

This month's "What Is It? Where Is It?" should have, at the very least, been obvious that it was part of a painting - you can even see part of the frame along the edge.

It is in fact the right hand of Ann Diggs Graeme, wife of Dr. Thomas Graeme for whom Graeme Park is named. The painting is unsigned, but has been attributed to Robert Feke (most of his existing works are unsigned) and shows many of the characteristics of his portraits, including the background. Most likely the hands, as was typical of 18th century portraits, were painted by an assistant or apprentice, and Feke then came in and did the face while Mrs. Graeme posed for the portrait.

The portrait of Ann Graeme is a reproduction, as are the other adult portraits that hang in the parlor of the Keith House. The originals are owned by descendants of Dr. and Mrs. Graeme's daughter, Mary Jane Graeme, and her husband, James Young, who was also painted by Feke. In fact, it was one of these relatives who correctly guessed what this month's "What is It? Where is It?" was in one of our Facebook comments.

As for what it is that Mrs. Graeme is holding, we're not actually sure but it is often speculated on by our visitors. Our guess has always been a snuff box of some sort. Because of the tradition of having the hands painted separately by an apprentice, we don't really know if it was even an item she owned, or just something the artist chose to depict.

We'll be back in May with our next edition.

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