Emily Eastman


has achieved a modest level of recognition for a small but appealing group of highly stylized watercolors depicting fashionably garbed and coiffed young women. Thedrawings appear to have been based largely upon European fashion prints, which were available as separate plates or through publications such as Ackerman’s
Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions, and Politics,
printed in London from 1809 through 1829. These illustrations heavilyinfluenced American taste in clothes, and also provided handsome copy prints for amateur arts and artists.Although little is known about Eastman’s life, she appears to have painted at least through the 1820s or 1830s, based upon the clothing and hairstyles she portrayed.The watercolors show evidence of light pencil under-drawing, and all the elements are subsequently outlined with ink. Each drawing focuses primarily on a young lady,in the guise of a “fashion plate.” Heads tilt alluringly on strong, graceful necks, and slim fingers sometimes flutter into compositions, which are generally bust-length.Faces are distinguished by strong Neoclassical features that are sharply delineated in ink with precise and sinuous lines that usually form a continuous curve from the brows to the nose. The suggestion of shade and shadow is skillfully handled with watercolor washes. Fine ink work, transparent washes, and touches of gouachesuggest filmy laces, netting, tightly rolled curls, ringlets, and eyelashes. Occasionally, additional decorative elements, such as birds or flowers, are also included.Eastman’s work has been collected by such early folk art luminaries as William Edgar and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, Maxim and Martha Codman Karolik, andmore recently by Ralph Esmerian. Through these collectors, examples have entered the collections of the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), Museum of FineArts (Boston), and the American Folk Art Museum (New York). The scant bio graphical information that is known about the artist is gleaned from the worksthemselves. Each of the two watercolors in the National Gallery bears an inscription in brown ink that gives the artist’s name and the location “Louden.” Additionalinformation is contained in a brief pencil inscription on
Lady’s Coiffure with Flowers and Jewels,
in the Karolik collection: “This picture painted by/Mrs Dr DanielBaker soon after/she (married April 4, 1824.”; below is written “for Julia Cooke/Nov. 28, 1878.”
See also
Ralph Esmerian; Edgar William and Ber nice Chrysler Garbisch; Maxim Karolik; Painting, American Folk.
Lipman, Jean.
American Primitive Painting.
New York, 1972.Museum of Fine Arts.
M, & M.Karolik Collection of American Water Colors and Drawings, 1800–1875,
vol. 2. Boston, 1962