Erastus Dow Palmer (American, Pompey, New York 1817–1904 Albany, New York)
1 7/8 x 1 3/8 in. (4.8 x 3.5 cm)
Gift of Dr. Clark S. Marlor, 1983
Not on view
During the early years of his career, Palmer is estimated to have produced over a hundred miniature cameos. These small low-relief portraits were cut in shell and were often duplicated in plaster by means of a wax mold. Twelve plaster casts (1983.519.1–.12), all of men, are mounted in an oval in a shadow box. Only three of the sitters have been identified: Mason Fitch Cogwsell (1807-1865), an Albany physician; John J. Francis (ca. 1810-1877) of Utica; and John Nichols Wilder (1813–1858), one of the founders of the University of Rochester. Three are the same portrait, although the identity of the sitter is unknown. The sculptor’s signature appears on two of the unidentified portraits. Studied together, these cameos reveal Palmer's special talent for rendering a gallery of Americans with a surprising variety of expression and character considering their intimate format.