John James Trumbull Arnold Pennsylvania (1812-1865)
PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN (Mrs. Gillings), c. 1850
oil on canvas, framed, unsigned
H34 1/2" W30"
Provenance: Estate of the late Francis D. "Skeeter" McNairy, Savannah, Georgia.
Descended in the sitter's family to Mr. James E. Silva, Savannah, Georgia.
Exhibitions: High Museum of Art, A PROPER LIKENESS: PLAIN STYLE PORTRAITS IN GEORGIA COLLECTIONS, January-April 1995.
Literature: Beatrix Rumford. AMERICAN FOLK ART PORTRAITS: PAINTINGS AND DRAWINGS. Boston: Rockefeller Folk Art Center, 1981. pp.39-41.
Other Notes: Accompanied by February 24, 1984 letter from McNairy documenting the acquisition of the portrait:
This portrait was purchased from James E. Silva, owner of Silva's Book Shop, Savannah, Ga.
James Silva was given the portrait by his father. His father was the brother of the painter William Silva. His father acquired the painting from Clara Ayles Ainsworth. She was James E. Silva's first cousin.
James E. Silva's father has the painting restored in Savannah by Christopher Murphy.
Clara Ayles was from Ossining, New York, and Mr. Silva thinks the subject was her grandmother on either her mother's or father;s side. Her mother's name was Gillings.
Clara Ayles married a Mr. Ainsworth and lived in Savannah. He at one time bought and sold the Savannah Inn and Country Club property at Wilmington Island. He also owned other Savannah properties, and Mr. Silva called him a "promoter" who was sometimes flush, othertimes not.
Clara Ainsworth lived in a suite of rooms at the old DeSoto Hotel in Savannah. She was last person forced to move from the hotel when it was being torn down to make way for the present DeSoto Hilton Hotel. She then moved across Liberty Street into the Drayton Towers, which she hated. She died there.
Clara Ainsworth Ayles [sic] gave this painting to James E. Silva's father.