The Dusenberry sisters sit on either side of a commode, or chest of drawers, with a romanticized landscape in the background. The basket of collected shells references a popular pastime among refined young women of the 1800s. Eliza Ann, a year older than her sister Adelia, holds a piece of white coral, considered a protection for children or a symbol of youth and health. Orlando Hand Bears was a native of Sag Harbor, New York. His clients were mostly prosperous merchants and ship captains associated with the whaling industry of eastern Long Island. While double portraits are quite common in his work, the abundant accessories and elaborate detail in this one are exceptional.
Credit Line: Text courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Art (CC BY 3.0).