America. Dated 1823.
Watercolor on paper.
“Emblem of Peace”.
Background: From 1765 to 1783, the Indian Princess---the “rebellious” daughter of Britannia (the symbol of Britain) came to symbolize the 13 Colonies, representing the mother/daughter relationship of Britain to America. The American Flag adapted by Congress in 1776 incorporated The Indian Princess. After the Revolution, the Indian Princess changed appearance, evolving to a Neoclassical figure, spurred by the popularity of the discovery of wonders of ancient Greece and Rome. Formal art of Liberty inspired folk artists to represent her from their own untutored imaginations, creating emotionally powerful images yet often departed from realism. This is one of those representations.
Description: Liberty is rendered in Neoclassical form, barefoot with white toga and blue & white sash, her long brown hair topped by a tiara. She holds a polychrome American flag with what appears to be a dove. In most Liberty representations the bird is clearly an eagle, yet here it has morphed into a dove in support of the title “Emblem of Peace”. She also holds the Liberty Cap on a pole. The tall palm tree may be a holdover from pre-Revolution English interpretations in which the Indian Princess was mistakenly believed to have Caribbean influence. The area around her contains stylized Cyprus trees, morning glories, and a remarkably graphic landscape on which the fragile Liberty stands.
Retains strong colors, with folds, staining, toning, and minor tears. Gilded frame about 16 inches x 13.
EXHIBITED/National Tour: MUSEUM OF AMERICAN FOLK ART, NY, Feb 25, 1986-September 30, 1987.
PUBLISHED: Liberties with Liberty, The Fascinating History of America’s Proudest Symbol, Nancy Jo Fox, 1986; pictured page 25.
PROVENANCE: Gifted Christmas Day, 1953 by NINA FLETCHER LITTLE (celebrated Folk Art Collector/Author) to Agnes Halsey Jones & Louis C. Jones (Director of the New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown, 1947 to 1972, and co-founder: New York Folklore Society), having remained in the Jones’ descendant’s family until recently.