Born ca. 1687, Netherlands
Died 1778, Kingston, New York
Portrait of Catherine Ogden, 1730s
Oil on canvas
The Members' Fund, Charles W.
Engelhard Bequest Fund, Anonymous
Why is this 19th-century folk sculpture displayed with 20th-century art
During the 18th century, a woman was defined by her role as wife and mother. Here the artist portrays Mrs. Ogden pointing to her breast, a reference to her heart and love and to the feeding and nurturing of her children. Mrs. Ogden's left hand, positioned over her womb, holds a flower, symbolizing fertility.
This may be a wedding portrait, since female portraits were often commissioned at the time of marriages, the wedding ring is prominently displayed, and the sitter wears a red dress, which along with white was traditional for weddings. Vanderlyn worked in rural New York State and was self-taught, as is reflected in his flat style.