A rare miniature portrait by Leopold Unger, painted with watercolors on organic wafer. The sitter, a very attractive blue-eyed young woman with brown hair done in sausage curls, has a wistful or slightly sad expression on her face and in her eyes. She is in a black dress with black lace edging at the bodice, and is sitting in a brownish-red chair, holding a red book, and with a multicolored scarf draped over her arm.
The miniature is signed "P. Unger. px. 1839" along the lower left. The backing paper identifies the sitter as Maria Livingston and shows that in 1830 she married Edward Wells of Johnstown (NY). At the time of the painting Maria was 16 years old. In 1875 her daughter married E.L. Henry, a well-known and important American watercolorist.
The painting is presented in a brown leather frame with a deep maroon velvet mat, and a pewter surround to the painting itself. The condition of the painting is excellent, with no chips, cracks, or problems of note. The sight size is 2 1/2" by 2 1/8", with a framed size of 5" by 4 1/2".
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Leopold Paul Unger (1812-1859) was born in East Prussia and came to the United States in 1838, moving to Allentown, PA in 1839. There he started a portrait and miniature business while also traveling in PA, VA, and LA.
His works are uncommon and few are signed or have backing paper inscriptions. The Metropolitan Museum has two examples of his work, with one of them being an attribution.