November 2010 - May 2011

Anson Dickinson, A Member of the Roosevelt Family, about 1840, watercolor on ivory, Gift of the Rabbage Purchase Fund, Elliot S. Vesell, M.D., and various donors to the American Art Fund, 2010.7

Dandy. n.    1. One who studies above everything to dress elegantly and fashionably; a beau, fop, ‘exquisite.’ -Oxford English Dictionary

The popularity of the portrait miniature in Great Britain coincided with the rise of the dandy: a young—or sometimes not-so-young—man of fashion whose clothing, appearances, and mannerisms projected nonchalance and social refinement. The miniature's intimate scale and appearance suited self-proclaimed dandies, since the requirements of laying down watercolor on ivory meant that an artist had to work precisely, without a wasted motion, for a seemingly effortless finished product.

The passion for fashion—and portrait miniatures—quickly crossed the Atlantic. Within a short time, clients and artists in cities up and down the Eastern seaboard began to commission and to create intimate portraits of dashing Yankee Doodle Dandies.

This installation brings together a selection of the Museum's dandiest dandies, from both Europe and America.

Select Images from the Exhibition