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 Sarah De Hart  (1759 - 1832)

About: Sarah De Hart
 

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Lived/Active: New Jersey      Known for: silhouettist

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Living her life in her birthplace of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, Sarah De Hart was born into a wealthy and prominent Huguenot family.  Her father was John De Hart, a lawyer and delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses of 1774 and 1775, and her mother was Sarah Dagworthy.  The father was also Mayor of Elizabethtown (Elizabeth) New Jersey from 1789 to his death in 1795.  Because of his prominence, many important people came to the De Hart home, which gave Sarah the opportunity to capture their likeness.

Little is known about her life except that at the time of her death, 130 of her artworks were found, mostly silhouettes but also collages.  One of her collages had silhouettes, a calling card, marine drawings, flags and verses from a poem.

These pieces as well as other memorabilia including her scissors were purchased in 1946 by the James O. Keene family of Birmingham, Michigan, and then auctioned through Sotheby's in New York on January 16, 1997.

De Hart began cutting silhouettes by the age of 12, known because one of them, a soldier, is dated 1771.  Her working method was hollow cutting and freehand, meaning she cut the profiles from white paper without benefit of a profile cutting machine, and mounted them on black paper or silk backgrounds.  Judging by the hair styles of the subjects, about two-thirds are dated before 1795.

Her work appears to have been highly realistic with some being "quite attractive, while others show faces that reflect the loss of teeth and other infirmities of age.  They were intended as mementos for herself and gifts for friends, and there is no indication she ever sold one of them." (88)

Source:
Leslie Warwick and Peter Warwick, "Sara de Hart, Early American Silhouettest", The Magazine Antiques, September 2008

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