A folky miniature portrait, signed on the back: "Painted by M.B. Russell", and naming the sitter as Mrs. Rebecca Howe. The painting is also signed along the left side "M.B. Russell 1850". Although the sitter is of rather plain aspect, Russell has imbued the painting with a wonderful feeling of folkiness and naivete, possibly as a result of his wife's influence, or her actual participation in the work. It is quite unusual to have any miniature fully signed, dated, and with the sitter identified.
The condition of the miniature is excellent, with no chips, cracks, or bowing. The area at the lower left corner was intentionally painted that way by the artist. The white specks seen throughout the photo are not flaws, but dust on the glass or camera lens. The miniature is housed in a dag case which has one edge slightly skewed. Sight size of this piece is 2 5/8" by 2 1/8".
Biographical Note: Russell (1810-1884) was born in Woodstock, NH and was active, primarily in the Boston area, for over 50 years, from 1833 to 1884. He exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum, the Boston Art Association, and the American Institute of the City of New York, among others, receiving numerous awards. Playing an important role in the popularity of miniatures, extended references to him can be found in virtually any book on American painting. In 1839 he married Clarissa Peters (who was thereafter referred to as Mrs. Moses B. Russell), an accomplished miniaturist, best known for her charming and naive portraits of young children and women. Many art experts have come to the conclusion that it is highly likely that she had a hand in many portraits done by her husband.