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George Peter Alexander Healy (American, 1813 -1894)
Portrait of Sallie Ward,1860,oil on canvas.
Gift of Mrs. John W. Hunt and Mrs. Ruth Hunt Hillson
Painting and frame conservation by Edith and Jacob Horn, The Horn Foundation 1939.96

Sallie Ward was one of the most notorious southern belles of the nineteenth century. A resident of Louisville she was known from Boston to New Orleans, not only for being vivacious, impetuous and fun-loving, but also for her scandalous actions. She was married four times, “painted” her face, and wore bloomers at formal events, all very shocking to the more staid members of society. Nonetheless she had numerous admirers who were quick to forgive her trespasses. When G.P.A. Healy painted her portrait he reputedly described her as being the most beautiful woman he had ever painted. High praise considering his sitters included presidents, royalty and society’s grand dames. In the portrait a thirty-three-year-old Sallie radiates some of that boundless spirit. She is fashionably dressed in a lace and moiré gown. Her head is tilted somewhat demurely, but her sparkling eyes and the flicker of a smile hint at a vivacious personality.




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