REBECCA FAULKNER FOSTER CLARKE
Richard Morell Staigg (1817-1881)
watercolor on ivory
4 1/4 x 3 3/8 (10.7950 x 8.5725)
signed l.l., above shoulder, 'Staigg 1852'
Bequest of Dwight Foster Dunn, 1937
Rebecca Faulkner Foster was the youngest child of Alfred Dwight
(1800-52) and Lydia Stiles Foster. She and her older siblings,
and Mary grew up in Worcester. The family traveled extensively.
1850, the family was journeying through the South visiting
Charleston, South Carolina, New Orleans, Louisiana, Mobile,
Savannah, Georgia. Her older Mary described some of their
letters home to a friend, including a story about their stay in
in March 1850: '[A]fter I was arrayed in my 'robe de nuit' - I
on the wall - a Centipede - I had no weapons to rise, and called
in our parlor adjoining to bring me something with which to kill
could not get anything until its many legs had conveyed it under
Hetty found, on her return, Becca standing on the parlor sofa,
all, while I was sailing round half insane between my stomach ache
the recollections of the awful stories we had heard that day of
nature of centipedes.... After the commotion had somewhat subsided
discovered another and so went to bed with stockings and shoes on
I had my suspicions that the others did not undress at all.'(1)
survived the journey and returned to Worcester at the end of the
This miniature depicting Rebecca at age twenty, was commissioned
older sister Mary two years after the southern trip. Mary paid the
artist Richard M. Staigg $100 for the portrait.(2) The miniature
with the date 1852. In August of that year the girls' father died
and they each inherited a considerable portion of his estate. Mary
have been inspired to commission the miniature based on the death
father or due to her sister's upcoming marriage. In May 1853,
left the Foster household to marry Dr. Henry Clarke (1824-80), who
a large medical practice in Worcester.(3)
The artist Richard M. Staigg, who was born in Leeds, England,
the United States in 1831. He studied the art of miniature
Jane Stuart (1812-88) and eventually settled in Newport, Rhode
He moved to Boston in 1841 and exhibited his work at the Boston
Staigg quickly gained recognition for his flattering likenesses
prominent Massachusetts politicians and members of Boston's social
among his patrons. In 1852, shortly after completing this portrait
Rebecca Faulkner Foster, Staigg moved to New York City.(4)
|1)  Mary Stiles Foster
to Sarah Bruce
Hill, March 19, 1850, Foster Family Papers 1740-1884, American
Society Manuscript Collection.
2)  Label on verso, in hand of Mary Stiles Foster: 'Painted by
Staigg for her
sister Mary S. Foster and paid for by her $100.'
3) Rufus Woodward, 'Dr. Henry Clarke,' Boston Medical and Surgical
(May 13, 1880), American Antiquarian Society Newsclipping File.
Dr. Clarke never became a member of the American Antiquarian
and his wife were generous donors of books and periodicals to the
library between 1877 and 1905. See Proceedings of the American
Society (October 1877): 90; 11 (October 1896): 239; 13 (April 1899):
and 17 (October 1905): 193.
4)   Dale T. Johnson, American Portrait Miniatures in the Manney
York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1990), 204-5.