Family Record of Elias Morrell and Sarah Allen
Artist: W. L. Williams
Oil & Watercolor on Paper
11 3/4” x 15” Framed to 14 1/4” x 17 1/4”
This unsigned record dated 1824 is almost certainly by the hand of W. L. Williams whose signed birth record for Wm. P. Browning of Woodford Co. Ky. dated 1813 can be seen on display at The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) confirming the artist’s identity. An image of that record is among the support photos to be viewed below. Another for view is an unsigned birth record by Williams attached to the underside of the domed lid on a paint decorated small box . Additionally a signed Marriage certificate dated 1831 recently emerged at a Rachael Davis auction on Dec. 4th 2021 from the estate of Ross Trump & Edson J. Brown which too is included among the support images. More in the tradition of illuminated drawings than Fraktur these documents are likely more derived from a British Isles sensibility than the continental. The meticulous execution to detail opposed generally to the somewhat looser images of the Germanic tradition being another separation from the trove. The liberal use of oil paint a departure though only seen on our example. The four documents mentioned are the total population which I have encountered within 40 years when the Browning birth record surfaced. This family record example came from the Peter Chillingworth collection at Scenery Hill, Pa. Peter purchased it nearby suggesting Pa. or Ohio possibly the site of origin. The signed marriage certificate dated 1831 sold by Rachael Davis came from a Cleveland, Ohio Collection. The Lydia Ann Rockhill birth certificate dated 1817 affixed to a box lid was found among the estate of a Cincinnati, Ohio antique dealer. Seems Williams likely crossed the Ohio River sometime after executing the Browning record in 1813. Eighteen years between these works and scarcity of examples might suggest this a sideline occupation or a presentation to friends.
Apparently in the original frame with damp stains, toning to the paper, a faint vertical fold line in the center, and paper chipping to the perimeter. Colors remain strong with the top two lines popping with the application of oil paint. Now with UV filtering glass, loose acid free backing, having clear separators between the glass and the work.