Hall, Anne (1792–1863)

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Hall, Anne (1792–1863)

American painter of miniature portraits and figures on ivory. Born in Pomfret, Connecticut, on May 26, 1792; died in New York City, on December 11, 1863; the third daughter and sixth of eleven children of Dr. Jonathan (a physician) and Bathsheba (Mumford) Hall; received art instruction from Samuel King; studied oil painting with Alexander Robertson; never married; no children.

A respected painter of miniatures on ivory, and the first woman to become a full member of the National Academy of Design, Anne Hall was born in Connecticut in 1792, one of 11 children of a prominent and cultured Connecticut physician who had encouraged his daughter's early artistic efforts. At age five, Hall was cutting paper figures and modeling in wax, a common medium of the period. She was aided in her childhood endeavors by a family friend, who supplied her with watercolors and pencils. Within a short time, she was painting and drawing birds, flowers, and insects. Although she gradually gravitated to portraiture, she never lost her love of flowers, and often incorporated bouquets into her later figure paintings.

During a visit to Newport, Rhode Island, Hall met Samuel King, the teacher of Gilbert Stuart, Washington Allston, and miniaturist Edward Green Malbone. King gave Hall her first lessons in the technique of painting miniatures on ivory, which she later supplemented by studying oil painting with Alexander Robertson, a miniaturist and landscape painter and one of the first art teachers in America. Hall's brother, a successful businessman in New York, also supported her art instruction by sending paintings from Europe for her to copy. The "old master" color of her later miniatures was attributed to these early copies.

Hall had her first exhibitions at the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York in 1817 and 1818. She moved to the city in the mid-1820s and was the first woman admitted to the newly formed National Academy of Design in 1827. She was elected to full membership in 1833 and exhibited regularly in the Academy's annual shows, although, as a proper lady, she did not attend regular meetings. (The one exception was in 1846, when she was summoned to fill out a quorum for an important vote.)

Specializing in portraits of women and children, which she painted as single figures or groups, Hall received numerous commissions from prominent New York families; her group portraits reportedly fetched as much as $500. Her work was admired for its delicacy and was often compared to the paintings of portraitists Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Lawrence. In 1859, historian Elizabeth Ellet wrote that Hall's "soft colors seemed breathed on the ivory, rather than applied with a brush." By modern-day standards, however, Hall's portraits might be considered overly "pretty" or sentimental, reminiscent of the religious works of Guido Reni, who strongly influenced her early years.

Little is known of Hall's private life. She never married and remained close to her family, many of whom were the subjects of her paintings. She died of heart disease in December 1863, at the home of her sister in New York City.


James, Edward T., ed. Notable American Women 1607–1950. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971.

Rubinstein, Charlotte Streifer. American Women Artists. Boston, MA: G.K. Hall, 1982.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts