Portrait of a Child with a bird Verso bears a jelly label inscribed M.F.A. / 1092.15 / Unknown / Martha Custis Washington oil on canvas, laid down on panel 29 1/2 x 22 1/2in (74.9 x 57.1cm)
On loan to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston from May 20, 1915 to September 28, 1915; it is unclear if it was exhibited during that time.
Joseph Briggs / Joseph Briggs House, Marshfield, MA
Dwight M. Prouty, Boston, circa 1913
Sold John Wanamaker Galleries, New York, "The Notable Private Collection of Dwight M. Prouty, Esq of Boston," 1921, lot 2909
Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Bayer, New York NY, Mt. Kisco NY and Cambridge MA.
Acquired by the family of the seller in 1932.
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Joseph Badger was the son of Stephen Badger (1671-1751) and Mercy Kettrell (1679-1751); he spent his life in the Boston area, advertising in 1731 as a house painter. He married Catharine Smith Fletch and they had eight children, two of which - Joseph Jr (1731-1800) and Jonathan (1736-1799) - became painters. Badger's brother, Daniel Badger (1699-1786) was also a painter but by 1735 had moved to Charleston, South Carolina.
Both Joseph and Daniel Badger followed a formula in their portraits of children that align closely with that of Sir Peter Lely and Sir Godfrey Kneller, in which the sitter stands with one hand resting on a hip, the other holding a pet, and typically out of doors with clouds and occasionally a tree in the sitter.
This portrait of a child bears very close comparisons to other works done or attributed to Joseph Badger (1707-1765); these include a portrait of Benjamin Badger in the collection of Winterthur Museum (accession # 1956.566); a portrait of James Badger in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (accession # 29.85) and a portrait of a boy (possibly Samuel Flagg), at one time in the collection of the Lancaster (PA) Town Library. All include a black throat ribbon, elongated sash belt and ruffled cuffs.
Two individuals by the name of Joseph Briggs lived in Marshfield in the late 19th century: one was born in Massachusetts in 1808 and was living in Marshfield in 1870. The other was born in New York in 1845 and was also living in Marshfield in 1870. It is unclear if either were the prior owner of this portrait.