Little Girl with Flowers (Amelia Palmer)

Charles Cromwell Ingham (American (born Ireland), Dublin 1786–1863 New York)
ca. 1830
Oil on canvas
67 7/8 x 53 1/4 in. (172.4 x 135.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Courtlandt Palmer, 1950
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 732
When exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1830, Ingham's "Portrait of a Little Girl with Flowers" attracted critical scorn for its crisp handling, smooth modeling, and bright light on the figure—the very tenets of contemporary neoclassicism. An Irish painter who must have studied in Paris before coming to New York, Ingham espoused the French neoclassical ideal while others clung to the popular, painterly British model. For this avant-garde portrait, Ingham found a willing subject in Amelia Palmer (1819–1843), the daughter of a Stonington, Connecticut, merchant. The idyllic setting and her sprite-like pose suggests that the artist aimed his artistic ambitions higher than straightforward portraiture. The wildflowers—cotton grass, bull thistles, phlox, violets, silkweeds, milkworts, and pinks—redouble the notion of the girl as classical wood nymph, a fair maiden who guards the place she inhabits.
Amos Palmer, New York, died 1854; probably his wife, Sarah Palmer; her brother-in-law, Courtlandt Palmer, died 1870; his grandson Courtlandt Palmer, until 1950