(First Quarter 19th Century)
Two Historic New Orleans Portrait Miniatures
each watercolor and gum arabic
including "Mary Minor Kenner (ca. 1786-1814), Wife of Planter and Politician William Kenner (1776-1823)", unsigned, frame backing with typewritten description identifying the sitter and Duncan Kenner Brent's card, sight 2-1/8" x 1-7/8"; and Ambrose Duval (French/New Orleans, ca. 1778-1860), "Portrait of a Young Man in a Navy Coat with White Waistcoat and Stock", signed lower right, 2-3/4" x 2-1/4".
Each glazed in an oval frame.
framed 5" x 4-3/4" and 3-3/8" x 2-3/4", respectively
Provenance: The Kenner portrait with sitter's son Duncan Kenner (1813-1884), thence by descent through the sitter's great-grandson Duncan Kenner Brent (1877-1934), son of Rosella Kenner (1849-1928) and General Joseph L. Brent (1826-1905).
Both portraits, Estate of Dr. Carroll Ball, Jackson, Mississippi.
Exhibited: By family repute, the Kenner portrait was borrowed/exhibited in the first half of the 20th century by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in concert with the "Carrington miniatures".
Notes: Little is known of Mary Minor proper, the sitter of this fine portrait miniature. She married William Kenner at the age of fourteen in 1800 and died fourteen years later. Her husband was a founding father of the city, and their four sons were major planters, who developed the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, after whom the city was named. William Kenner, a native of Virginia, was a prominent New Orleans planter, businessman and politician, who was involved in the brokerage of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Collectively, their sons owned Belle Grove, Pasture, Oakland and Ashland Plantations, and sold portions of the land for the Kenner property and for the New Orleans/Jackson Mississippi Railroad.
The French-born Ambrose Duval was one of the earliest and most successful portrait miniaturists working in New Orleans in the early 19th century. In 1805 he painted the famous portrait of William Claiborne, the first governor of Louisiana, now conserved in the Historic New Orleans Collection. In addition to portraiture, he advertised his services when he arrived in 1803 as a teacher and naturalist painter of landscapes and flowers. His predilection for the latter made him an astute ornithologist. By 1829, he had amassed an extensive collection of preserved birds in his Bourbon Street studio, which he lent to his friend John James Audubon for his study of Birds of America.
In the Kenner portrait, there are small losses and craquelure to the gum arabic in the lower left-facing
part of the black shawl; the right-facing edge of the shawl also exhibits some crazing and possible flaking.
The rest of the portrait is in overall very good condition, and retains excellent clarity of color and fine
detail. The frame is of a later period. Losses and deterioration of what appears to be a silk velvet liner
indicate that the frame is from ca. 1900.
In the Duval portrait, there are no visible losses or repairs; it is in overall very good condition. The
background exhibits some innate imperfections and soiling from faint smudges from the artist's
fingerprints. On the center left edge, three are three minute striations (under 1/8") that are possibly
innate, but, more likely, are resultant of faint shrinkage/age cracks in the support. The brass frame is also
of a later period, and has light wear and oxidation.