Frances Platt Townsend was born February 17, 1779, daughter of Dr. Platt Townsend, a physician in the City of New York. Frances was married on March 27, 1803 to Lancaster Lupton, a lawyer, also from New York City, the son of a wealthy merchant, William Lupton. Sadly the marriage only lasted 6 months, as Lancaster Lupton died in August of that year before their only child, Elizabeth, was born. Frances never remarried and her only child only lived to be 14. The three members of this family are buried together in the Trinity Churchyard in New York City. Frances died March 5, 1833, aged 54. The hair on the back of the miniature was perhaps a later addition to include the hair of her husband and daughter, alternatively it could be a combination of her own hair and that of her husband.

Frances is listed in the New York Historical Society's "Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564-1860" as a "sculptor, miniaturist and landscape painter." She was an Associate member of the National Academy of Design and she exhibited at the National Academy in 1828, 1829, and 1831, and in 1829 she presented to the City of New York her bust of Governor Throop.

This miniature was commissioned around the time of Frances' marriage. There is a note in Malbone's record book (no. 21, page 50) for May or June 1806 which reads "Mrs Lupton's niece Miss Townsend, pd. 50."

Malbone traveled to London with Washington Allston where he was mentored by Benjamin West. In London he changed his style of painting learning to allow the luminosity of the ivory to emerge through washes of transparent color. He was highly productive after his return to Charleston in December 1801, sometimes painting three miniatures a week. Malbone traveled to major American cities for commissions over the next four years. He died in 1806 of tuberculosis, shortly after completing this miniature. He was perhaps the most influential American miniature painter of his time and after.


Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps