Summer Americana Auction
Attributed to Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827). A Philadelphia Lady, possibly Margaret Steele Milledoler, c. 1817. Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches, unlined and on original stretcher, within carved and gilded 19th century frame.This sensitive portrait of a Philadelphia lady descended in the Hallowell family, and was loaned, along with a Peale portrait of the Reverend Philip Milledoler (1775-1852), to the American Portraits exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, 1924-1925. At the time, the lender believed the work to be of Jane Mercer, an ancestor. But new research suggests that it is the portrait of Margaret Steele (1790-1852), who became the second wife of Milledoler in 1817. Margaret’s father was a trustee of the "Old Pine Church" in Philadelphia. Milledoler was then serving as its pastor, and the couple may have sat for Peale to celebrate their union. The features of this sitter closely resemble those depicted in a c. 1830 portrait of Margaret Steele Milledoler. By the 1950s, the pair of portraits were split, the Peale portrait of Reverend Milledoler descending to Morris Hallowell of Greenwich, CT, while this work went to another family member in Philadelphia until sold in 2004.