two seated women in foreground looking forward; both have dark brown hair parted at the center and ringlets; both are wearing matching blue dresses; bowl of shells at center; body of water with sailboats and hills in the background

Portrait of Eliza Ann and Adelia Dusenberry, 1838

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The Dusenberry sisters sit on either side of a commode, or chest of drawers, with a romanticized landscape in the background. The basket of collected shells references a popular pastime among refined young women of the 1800s. Eliza Ann, a year older than her sister Adelia, holds a piece of white coral, considered a protection for children or a symbol of youth and health. Orlando Hand Bears was a native of Sag Harbor, New York. His clients were mostly prosperous merchants and ship captains associated with the whaling industry of eastern Long Island. While double portraits are quite common in his work, the abundant accessories and elaborate detail in this one are exceptional.

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Details
Title
Portrait of Eliza Ann and Adelia Dusenberry
Artist Life
American, 1811–1851
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2008.84
Curator Approved

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two seated women in foreground looking forward; both have dark brown hair parted at the center and ringlets; both are wearing matching blue dresses; bowl of shells at center; body of water with sailboats and hills in the background