Maria Keens

Signed and dated August 1844


Little Maria Keens, with her wide eyes and rosy cheeks, was just 5½ years old when her portrait was painted in August 1844. For the occasion she has put on her Sunday best dress in cornflower blue with its full skirt and wide neckline edged in white lace together with a traditional coral bead necklace to ward off any evil spirits.

Born in 1839, Maria was the fourth child of William and Mary Keens of Newbury. Her father was a tailor and draper and employed several people. Maria went on to become a governess. She never married and died in 1923.

Painted on ivory, the portrait is signed T. Bird on the reverse and dated 20 August 1844. Bird was most likely an itinerant painter or perhaps a talented family friend. It is housed in what appears to be the original papier-mâché frame with a decorative surround and an emblems (rose, thistle and shamrock) hanger. The portrait is in excellent condition with bright unfaded colours; the frame has the usual nibbles and the old flat glass has a slight edge dimple at 2 o’clock.

Item Ref. 6431

Size: framed, 129 x 113mm (5 x 4½")