Here is a magnificent half length portrait of an attractive young woman in a crimson dress by K. Brookbank after Manuel De Franca. Manuel Joaquim De Franca (1808-65) reigned supreme for two decades as the most sought after portrait painter in the St. Louis region. Born in Portugal he received a pedigree art education at the art school founded by Franceso Goya in Lisbon. While still a student he was politically active which resulted in a death sentence for dissension against Portugal's Don Miguel regime, he escaped the country and sought refuge in Philadelphia. Here he became acquainted with Thomas Sully (the most important American portrait painter of the time) who was impressed by the young man and helped him get in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where he completed his education. His painting skills and European flair were immediately in demand among the elite by the time he arrived in St. Louis. Most likely the subject of this portrait was a prominent member of St. Louis society,
This particular painting was painted by a talented copyist of the day, K. Brookbank, in 1904. He has signed and dated the copy "Manuel Joachim De Franca 1859" which is when the first original was done. The DeFranca version may have been exhibited at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at The Worlds Fair that was held that year in St. Louis thereby providing copyist Brookbank the opportunity to work from it. The location of the De Franca version is not known. It would be interesting to see how they compare. It's hard to imagine the first one being more lovely than this one.
The painting executed on canvas has been relined to a hardboard panel and mounted in its original heavy gold leaf and gesso frame with an oval liner flanked by ornate spandrels. The frame alone is a work of art! It weighs about 50 lbs. and measures 41" wide by 47 " tall.
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