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Amelia and Eliza Danner
Jacob Maentel (1778–?)

Location: Hanover, Pennsylvania, United States

Date: c. 1815

Materials: Watercolor, gouache, ink, and pencil on paper

Dimensions: 10 1/2 × 8 3/8"

Credit: Gift of Ralph Esmerian

Accession Number: 2005.8.4

Photo credit: Photographer unidentified

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Description

The double portrait of Amelia (1811–1877) and Eliza Danner (c. 1809–1886) is an especially appealing scene that convincingly demonstrates Maentel’s ability to use familiar visual devices to fresh effect. The watercolor shares characteristics with many outdoor compositions that Maentel executed in this early period of his career, such as the placement of a tall, shady tree on one side, with houses in the distance, and foreground figures standing in profile. The artist repeated this early formula in his later portraits of Indiana subjects. Part of the charm of this watercolor lies in the robust roosters pecking at feed that the girls toss from their straw baskets. The vibrant red of their patterned dresses echoes the roosters' combs and focuses attention along the horizontal plane of the portrait. In fact, the entire scene is set unusually close to the picture plane when compared to other works by Maentel. This effectively creates an intimate interaction between the viewer and the sisters and offsets their static staging on either side of the watercolor. The rolling motion of the landscape and the active, low cloud formations further heighten this sense.

Amelia and Eliza were descended from Michael Danner, a prominent figure in the early history of Hanover, Pennsylvania. Amelia married Jacob Wirt (1801–1869) about 1827, and the portrait descended through their family. Eliza never married. Both sisters are buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Hanover. 

Stacy C. Hollander, "Amelia and Eliza Danner," in American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum (New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with American Folk Art Museum, 2001), 380.


Amelia and Eliza Danner
Date: c. 1815
Artist:
Dimensions: 10 1/2 × 8 3/8"
Materials: Watercolor, gouache, ink, and pencil on paper
Credit Line: Gift of Ralph Esmerian
Place/Region: United States, Hanover
Accession Number: 2005.8.4
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