The Portrait of Mary Elizabeth "Minnie" Barron (1876 - 1888)
Pastel on paper. 27 inches by 22 inches. Signed Theo Gegoux 1889.
With the inscription on the back in the artist's own hand, "This portrait was made from the corpse of the young lady and verbal descriptions."
Minnie was born on May 2nd, 1876 in Chaumont, New York the daugther of Richard and Anne Barron who were both from Ireland and called her Minnie. Richard and Anne had 12 children, but three of Minnie's younger brothers had also died of diptheria. Minnie died on November 25th, 1888 and was buried at the Arsenal Street Cemetery.
This is a well documented example of "posthumous portraiture", which flourished in the middle third of the 19th century. These paintings were drawn from the corpse and they expressed "the desire for the restoration of the dead through art" (P. Lloyd - 1980). Gegoux was well known for this type of portraiture. Many are the examples contained here at this webpage, with many more yet to be uncovered in the North Country of New York.
The portrait was donated to the Jefferson County Historical Society on April 27, 1970 by Anna and Greta Barron, Minnie's nieces, who were residents of Three Mile Bay.
Painted at Watertown, New York.
Photograph by Theodore Gegoux III - 2001 © Copyright - All Rights Reserved