Collections › MESDA Collection › Mourning Miniature for Peter Epes Doswell

Mourning Miniature for Peter Epes Doswell

Folwell, Samuel __Attributed to
Place Made:
Nottoway County Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
watercolor on ivory –brass –glass –hair
HOA: 1 3/4; WOA: 1 1/4
Accession Number:
SUBJECT: A mourning miniature memorializing Peter Epes Doswell (1793-1806). Peter, who died at 13, was the son of Major John Doswell and Mary Poythress (Epes) Doswell of Nottoway County, Virginia. Mary Pothress (Epes) Doswell was the daughter of Colonel Peter Epes of High Peak in Prince George County. Major Doswell was Justice of Nottoway County in 1793 and later served Sheriff. He built Cedar Grove.

ARTIST: This piece is attributed to the artist Samuel Folwell (1764-1813). Folwell was a miniaturist, silhouettist, engraver, and hair worker, who first appears in America in 1788. In 1793 Folwell first opened a drawing school for young ladies in Philadelphia. There he probably collaborated with his wife Ann Elizabeth (Gebler) Folwell (1773-1824). Betty Ring has noted the preeminence of the Folwell school in Philadelphia during the 1790s.

To supplement his income, Samuel Folwell traveled up and down the coast—from New Hampshire to Georgia—selling needlework picture patterns and painting miniatures. The pose of the figures, their facial features, and certain background details relate to some of the surviving needlework and watercolor pieces from the Folwell school.

CASE: On the case reverse there is both a ring for hanging and the mounts for a pin, although the pin has been broken off at the clasp. A back window reveals plaited hairwork.

REFERENCES: Betty Ring, “Girlhood Embroidery” (New York: Knopf, 1993) 387

RELATED WORKS: Miniature portrait of Peter Doswell’s mother Mary Poythress Epes Doswell (MESDA Acc. No. 3187.1); needlework by Peter Doswell’s sister, Mary Elizabeth Poythress Doswell (MESDA Acc. No. 3187.3).

DESCRIPTION: Oval miniature on ivory in gold plated brass case of a woman in empire style dress. She leans over a square monument with a dove on top of it. The monument is inscribed. A willow tree is in the background, along with browns and blue-greens.

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. T. Randolph Perkinson