Patrick Henry Davenport
American, 1803 – 1890
Portrait of Abner Gaines Daniel (born 1836) in Costume, with Dog, 1837
Oil on canvas
28 13/16 x 22 3/8 in. (73.2 x 56.8 cm.)
From the Noe Collection, Gift of Bob and Norma Noe, Lancaster, Kentucky 2011.9.2
A Fanciful Portrait
What can we make of Abner’s exotic costume, which includes a Shriner-like hat not typical of a young boy’s clothing of the period? An answer may lie in a newspaper report of a carnival procession held in his hometown of Lancaster in 1855 in which a grown-up Abner and other citizens dressed in costumes to personify various characters. Perhaps such dress-up occasions were long-standing fixtures in local entertainment, inspiring Abner’s parents to have their child portrayed wearing this fanciful costume.