This rather wise-looking young woman is depicted in a setting surrounded by flowers. Her long, dark hair is parted in two on top of her head; it is tied back and, on each side of her face, positioned over the ears in a fashion typical of the period. Her gaze is calm and attentive. Her features are regular and harmonious. She has a slight smile. She wears a lace blouse with a finely embroidered neck loop also made of lace. Her long-sleeved jacket, which fits nicely at the waist, is made of a thicker satin fabric in a delicately pinkish medium brown.

This work, painted in 1853, is one of the first portraits produced by Wandesforde in America. This young woman probably came from a well-to-do bourgeois family in New York.

As for the artist, Juan (also known as James) Buckingham Wandesforde (1817-1902), he was a native of England. Born into English aristocracy, the Earls of Wandesforde, Juan learned the basics of watercolour from John Varley (1778-1842), then John Le Capelain (1812-1848). Wandesforde then taught drawing at the Glasgow Collegiate & Communal Academy before emigrating to the United States and settling in New York in 1850.

The artist quickly gained in popularity. Critics and the public appreciated his miniatures and his talents as a high-society portraitist. Wandesforde exhibited his paintings at the American Academy of Design in his adopted city, among other places.

In 1862, probably attracted by a milder climate, Wandesforde decided to move to San Francisco, California. He would teach art there, pursue his career as an artist, and become involved in founding the San Francisco Art Association with Virgil Macey Williams (1830-1886). He then gradually abandoned portraiture to use his talent more to sketch landscapes of his part of the country.

Wandesforde was married. His wife’s first name was Mary. They had a daughter, Ivy, a musician, and a son, Harold. Around 1890, a terrible fire ravaged their home and the studio located in Haywards, and thus destroyed a substantial portion of the painter’s work.

Wandesforde never really recovered from this sad event.

Internationally renowned, Juan Buckingham Wandesforde died at the age of 85.

Donation from a collector
Musée Pierre-Boucher Collection
1987 980 D