The Portrait of Mark, Abigail, and Lois Susan
Demeritt, 1835 depicts several members of the Demeritt family from
New Hampshire including father, mother and newborn daughter. Other
Demeritt family members were also painted by artist Joseph Davis,
though such a sizable number of commissions from one family was
rare. (Davis was reported to have earned only $1.50 per portrait!)
Demeritts are shown in profile and face one another. Mark Demeritt,
a magistrate, selectman and member of the state legislature, holds
the New Hampshire Patriot, while his wife Abigail holds
the baby. On the table in front of him is a top hat, while she
a vase of flowers. The artists selection of objects in each
work reflects the gender specific roles of men and women of the day.
On the wall behind them is a landscape painting, probably invented
by the artist, rather than based on observation. Often these scenes
enhanced the cozy domesticity of Davis family portraits.