Attributed to Charles Bridges
"Portrait of a Seated Toddler Wearing a Pudding Cap"
oil on canvas
36" x 27-1/2", framed 41-1/2" x 32-1/2"
Provenance: Estate of Dr. Carroll Ball, Jackson, Mississippi.
Notes: A somewhat elusive figure, little is known of the schooling or artistic training of Charles Bridges, though he worked in the British portrait tradition of artists such as Sir Godfrey Kneller. In his late 60s, he made the extraordinary decision to travel to Williamsburg, Virginia to set up a studio. Virginia was then the largest and wealthiest Colony, but had not yet received the influx of British artists that other American colonies had. This afforded Bridges a unique opportunity, and he quickly assumed the role of a "house" painter for many of the most influential and prosperous families, living with them while he completed the commissioned portraits of the various members. Several of the portraits attributed to Bridges during this time of members of the Grymes, Byrd and Ludwell families bear a striking resemblance to the portrait presented here. Two in particular - "Child with Dog" and "The Boys of the Grymes Family" (private collections) - reveal nearly identical white-feathered black velvet pudding caps. These caps, common in Britain and Colonial America, were padded headwear for toddlers to prevent injury; the ones depicted in these three portraits are very distinctive in design. The composition of the painting offered here, with a young child and his beloved pet dog set against a vague landscape, was one frequently employed by Bridges in his portraits of children. Bridges was not known to sign or date his portraits.
References: Hood, Graham. Charles Bridges and William Dering: Two Virginia Painters, Virginia: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1978; Federal Writer's Project .Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1956; Howard, Samantha. A New Theatre of Prospects: 18th Century British Painters and Artistic Mobility. 2010. University of York, Ph.D.