Burgess Ball

Burgess Ball
Watercolor on Ivory
in gilded copper locket with
plaited hair on reverse
attributed to Raphaelle Peale
possibly Lancaster Cnty., Virginia

Gift from Mrs. William N. Wirt, 1991
Burgess Ball (1749-1800) married Frances Washington, daughter of Charles Washington and Mildred Thornton Washington, in 1781. In 1795, the American portrait miniaturist, Raphaelle Peale, traveled through Virginia on his way from Philadelphia, PA to Charleston, SC, where he was engaged to paint miniatures of the gentry elite.

It is thought that Peale painted this miniature of Colonel Ball at this time, probably to be presented to Frances. Gentry women are often depicted wearing such miniatures on ribbons or cords around the neck and frequently requested loved ones to sit for their portraits.