Mary Elizabeth Deane, 4 years old
Oil on canvas by Henry Stubble - 1792
This small and delicate portrait shows Mary Elizabeth Deane aged four. She wears a loose dress of white figured muslin tied at the waist with a wide pink sash. The high-waisted style with round neck and elbow-length sleeves is typical of the period. Mary was the daughter of farmer Robert Deane and lived in Caversham. On her father's death in 1824 she inherited money and property in Reading. As a young woman, she was known as 'the Angel of Caversham' for her kindness to the poor. She married Rev. James Young, son of Joseph Young who had a school for boys in Reading.
Henry Stubble was an established portrait painter, particularly of oval formats. He worked both as an itinerant and studio painter, in London and elsewhere, and was in Reading in 1792 and 1804. He was influenced by Thomas Gainsborough, who created a fashion for placing figures in a beautiful, slightly wistful version of the English landscape. Stubble was also noted for his sympathetic treatment of children. Whilst depicting an individual child in this portrait, he has also created an impression of childhood.
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