called Clara Walker Allen (Mrs. William Allen, 1737-before 1765)

Date: ca. 1755-1758

There are two other portraits also identified as Clara Walker Allen (Brooklyn Museum and Shelburne Museum), but they do not all represent the same person. All three descended in the Allen family at Claremont Plantation, though it is unclear when this portrait entered the family’s collection there. This subject appears too old to be Clara Walker Allen (1737-before 1765), who would have been approximately twenty years old at the time Wollaston was working in Virginia. Clara Walker was the first wife of William Allen. His second wife was Mary Lightfoot. This is likely another woman of the Allen, Walker, or Lightfoot family. The Detroit Institute of Arts currently attributes this portrait to John Hesselius, but the hands, dress, and eyes indicate that the artist was more likely John Wollaston. The portrait called “William Allen” that descended with this portrait is also stylistically more likely to be John Wollaston’s hand.

Dimensions: 36 × 28 1/2 inches (91.4 × 72.4 cm)

The portrait represents a woman standing parallel to the picture plane and wearing a red dress with white fichu, a black breastknot tied over it, and a white cap tied with a black bow under her chin. Her right arm rests on a carved table. The background is plain.

See: DIA Online Collections

Location: Unknown
Decade: 1750s
Credits: Detroit Institute of Arts, Gift of Dexter M. Ferry, Jr., 27.607.