Exhibitions: Small Wonders from the American Collections

Thomas Seir Cummings: Portrait of Elizabeth Stirling Foote

In keeping with the emotional symbolism of miniature portraits, couples frequently exchanged these tokens to mark an engagement or wedding, as was the case for Elizabeth Stirling (1811–1900) and Erasmus Darwin Foote (1808–1866), who married in March 1833. The artist, Thomas Seir Cummings of New York, was the most famous miniaturist of his day and also taught and published on the subject. Contemporary critics praised his works for their ability to “raise sensations in the bosoms of those who gaze on them.”