This portrait of Eliza Gordon exemplifies the Shutes’ method of working. It features the characteristic heavy pencil shading, watercolor wash in the background, unusual use of applied gold paper to simulate jewelry, unpainted areas to suggest sheer fabric, and ribbon-like spaces between the full sleeves and waist. It is also an example of the type of portrait the Shutes produced for the young women employed by New England textile mills.
Eliza Gordon (1813–1893) was born in Henniker, New Hampshire, and worked in the Phoenix Factory, a cotton mill in Peterborough, from June 1833 to February 1835. In her portrait, she is seated in a paint-decorated chair and holds a rose. In June 1835, she married Zophar Willard Brooks (1812–1906), of Hancock, New Hampshire. Brooks was a farmer, a carriage and housepainter, and a chair decorator. The couple lived in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, for a few years, then removed to the Brooks family property in Hancock by 1840. Brooks held many public positions in his community.
Stacy C. Hollander, "Eliza Gordon (Mrs. Zophar Willard Brooks)," in American Anthem: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum (New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with American Folk Art Museum, 2001), 322