William and Alberta McCloskey, Untitled (Portrait of an Unknown Woman), 1895


William and Alberta McCloskey
Untitled (Portrait of an Unknown Woman)
Oil on canvas, 1895
30 x 25 inches
Promised gift of Nancy Dustin Wall Moure
PG.2004.009.012
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Portraiture was the main source of income for the McCloskeys. In Untitled (Portrait of an Unknown Woman), the signature at lower right—“W.J. – A.B. McCloskey”—attests to the collaboration of the two artists on this portrait, something they often did. That the sitter is anonymous was not unusual in the late-nineteenth century when such works were highly regarded for the interpretation and skill of the artist. Noted for their ability to capture the personality of the sitter, the McCloskeys depict their subject in a refined and dignified manner, presenting the viewer with a serious yet soft and introspective visage. Her face is imbued with warmth, juxtaposed against the dark background and her black clothing. Her femininity is emphasized by the lace edging at her neckline and the sprig of lavender flowers—perhaps, Alberta’s work—affixed to her bodice.