Faith in art : Justus Engelhardt Kuhn's portrait of Eleanor Darnall
Pomerenk, Kathleen Orr.
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. The first known portraitist in the southern colonies was Justus Engelhardt Kuhn (d. 1717), a German immigrant whose early work included pendant portraits of Eleanor Darnall (1704-1796) and her older brother, Henry (1702-1788?), as children. These full-length, ambitious and expensive paintings contain intriguing iconographic details that make them stylistically and visually different from paintings commissioned in the northern colonies. Some scholarly attention has been devoted to one aspect of the painting of Henry because of the inclusion of a slave in his portrait, though little attention has been paid to the equally complex and alluring portrait of Eleanor. No more than sixteen extant works by Kuhn are known, all painted between 1708 and 1717.; An interdisciplinary approach is used to identify the sitter in this portrait and investigate the painting's artistic and cultural aspects by exploring Colonial portraiture conventions, religious iconography, and Maryland history and law. In addition to reading scholarly articles and books on the subject, research for this thesis included interviews with scholars, curators and historians in the fields of American portraiture and Maryland Catholic history. Primary source material provided invaluable context for understanding this portrait.; This thesis offers a multi-dimensional analysis of the portrait of Eleanor Darnall, who became the mother of John Carroll, the first American Catholic archbishop and the founder of Georgetown University. Kuhn drew on a variety of traditions to convey the culture and values of his only known portrait clients, the prominent Carroll, Digges and Darnall families, during a time of fluctuating tolerance for Catholics in the American colonies. Though only a few scholars have given Kuhn's body of work serious attention, this thesis will argue that the artist offers significant insight into the social, cultural, and religious values of his prominent clients through the portraits he created. This paper contends that the portrait not only preserved the image of the sitter and confirmed the family's wealth and status, but that it also symbolized the family's political allegiance, provided a means of social mobility for the artist, and served to document the family's Catholic faith through its multiple layers of iconography.