This is a wonderful piece of American folk art, attributed to Elizabeth Glaser and formerly exhibited at the Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington, Massachusetts. These “Fashionable Ladies” bear some of the best qualities of early 19th century folk art by American women that has been touted by a variety of books and museum exhibits. Although naïve in their execution, Elizabeth Glaser’s compositions show careful organization and draftsmanship. She includes wonderful elements such as the lightly painted 8-pointed stars in the upper corners of this composition and red scrolls that playfully represent growing flowers. Little is known about Elizabeth Glaser and her work is sought after and quite rare. Another of Glaser’s watercolors, “Lady in a Yellow Dress Watering Roses”, is published in the two books and is held within the Washington State University Collection of Colonial Paintings. My research shows that known works by Ms. Glaser are rare indeed. Two watercolor and calligraphic compositions and a framed watercolor titled “Melon on a Vine” were sold at auction in 1986. “Lady in a Yellow Dress Watering Roses” by Elizabeth Glaser was exhibited at The Virginia Museum, Richmond, November 29, 1977-January 8, 1978 in an exhibition titled “American folk painting : selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Wiltshire III in Titles”. “Lady in a Yellow Dress Watering Roses” was sold at Sotheby’s New York in 1981 for $5500.00. The Smithsonian Art Museum’s Art Inventory Catalog “SIRIS”, includes three paintings by Glaser: “Lady In a Yellow Dress Watering Roses”, Melon on a Vine” and “Girl with a Feathered Bonnet”. Unfortunately, SIRIS does not include images of these paintings and I have been unable to find images of anything other than “Lady in a Yellow Dress Watering Roses”. One auction reference refers to Elizabeth Glaser as being from the Baltimore area, but I have not been able to confirm this by any other source.
This is the second time I’ve been lucky enough to own this watercolor. It will soon be available for purchase on my website. In the meantime, I’d love for you to share your thoughts about this watercolor.