I was looking through my archives and realized I never corrected a major error. In this post, I attached an image that I identified as a painting of my ancestor Mary Bliss Parsons. It’s not! (and one of the commenters references another painting of her with a child, which also cannot be the case.) The image was posted at the UMass website with no caption. Because the site is about MBP and because (I must say it) the woman looks VERY MUCH like members of my family, I made the hopefully-understandable assumption that it depicts her.
I got in touch with the UMass webmistress to request permission to possibly use the image in The Witch’s Trinity, which has an extensive afterword about Mary Bliss Parsons. She informed me that there are no images of MBP. The UMass people had simply noticed the website was devoid of images and cast about to find some. The painting is of the same era, illustrating “Colonial America,” so they used it. They ran out of time and funding to properly caption the image.
(But I hasten to say the website is in all other regards completely amazing. Where else would I have been able to see—handwriting and all—the testimony in Mary Bliss Parsons’ witchcraft cases, without traveling all the way to Massachusetts? It also has a very in-depth analysis of my ancestor’s circumstances versus her accuser’s.)
The funny thing is, the woman in the image is basically a dead-ringer for my mom dressed as a Colonial woman. I’m blown away that this doesn’t depict our ancestor! (By the same token, it initially amazed me that after eleven generations, faces could still be so similar).
Interesting crinkle #1:
There was a second painting on the website (the one I think the commenter on my original post was referring to). I have to give my mother credit for questioning it. She said that she had seen it somewhere before (no, not in our attic!). With a strong interest in Colonial painting/furniture/antiques, she recalled that this portrait was unusual for that era in its use of yellow for the woman’s garment. I googled while she pulled out her books. And I was able to locate the painting, which identified the sitter as the wife of someone—not a Parsons. I just now tried to again locate the image; why didn’t I bookmark it? Can’t find it now.
Interesting crinkle #2:
I just went back to the Umass website and am unable to locate either painting. Looks like they took them down. And added some new content: nice work, guys!