Favorite decades: 1910's, 1800's, 1870's
Favorite artists: Anthony van Dyck, Giovanni Boldini, Henry Fuseli, Thomas Lawrence
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Mary McCall by Robert Feke, ca 1746 US (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Feke is considered the first important American-born artist. He developed a style that was distinct from the prevalent English technique practiced in the Colonies. This “native style” became popular, and Feke earned a living as an itinerant portraitist, traveling between Boston, Philadelphia, and Newport, Rhode Island. Little is known of Feke; his later life is particularly mysterious. After embarking from Newport in 1750, possibly bound for commissions in Barbados, he was never heard from again.
Mary McCall was a member of the Philadelphia Dancing Assembly, which hosted dances every two weeks and was a vital part of the social life of colonial Philadelphia. She holds a single flower, a common device in Feke’s portraits, in this case possibly indicating McCall’s availability for marriage. Seven years after this portrait was thought to have been painted, McCall married the merchant William Plumstead, whoserved as mayor of Philadelphia in the mid-1750’s.