Ladd, Anna Coleman Watts - self portrait

This hand-painted miniature portrait is signed "Anna Coleman".

It was purchased at auction in Dedham MA, which is very close to Boston.

Correspondence with an authority on Anna Coleman Ladd (aka Anna Coleman Watts Ladd), and a comparison of the signature, gives reason to believe that the portrait was painted by Anna Coleman Ladd (nee Watts) (15 Jul 1878 - 3 Jun 1939) who came from a very wealthy family.

It looks to have been painted just before she married in 1905. At that time Anna would have been conscious that Watts was a historic and very wealthy family name. Perhaps while she was undecided whether to continue with the name Anna Coleman Watts for her work, or to use Anna Coleman Ladd, she compromised and signed the miniature Anna Coleman.

Purchased in the same lot with the miniature was an earlier miniature of a male sitter. It is also shown here, as it is possible that the sitter is a relation of Anna Coleman Ladd, as there is some facial similarity. The only clue to the identification of the male is that the rear is engraved "E B", but to date, no reference has been found to an ancestor with those initials.

From a comparison with the 1901 CDV photograph of Ladd shown above and another photograph taken around 1919 as shown further below, it is believed the miniature is a self-portrait. The 1901 portrait is in the Smithsonian, see Anna Coleman Ladd and Selected images of documents )

Within the Smithsonian papers there is a file titled "Drawings by Anna Coleman Ladd, 1902-1905, undated (2 folders)". However, it is unknown whether there is a sketch for the miniature in the file. There are also further photographs of her, but they are not available for viewing online.

She was born Anna Coleman Watts in Radnor PA, the daughter of a lawyer John Shoenberger Watts (1851-?) and Mary P Watts (1858-?). On 26 Jun 1905 she married Maynard Ladd (24 Feb 1873-1942), a Boston paediatrician who had been born in Michigan the son of a clergyman and author from Maine, Horatio Oliver Ladd (31 Aug 1839-1932). In 1881 Horatio founded the University of New Mexico and was its president until 1889. Horatio's wife was Harriet Vaughan Abbott (1830-1913) a direct descendent via her mother, of Myles Standish who arrived with the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower, see De Fov!lle, Economist, Dead.

Anna's paternal grandfather was Henry Miller Watts (1895-1890) a very wealthy Philadelphia attorney and investor in the Marietta ironworks, see Musselman - Vesta Furnace, who in the 1870 census, disclosed assets of $750,000. This compared to the $100,000 he disclosed in the 1850 census, and $85,000 disclosed in the 1860 census. Presumably the large increase was from his receiving his wife's inheritance after her father's death.

Henry Miller Watts (see engraving and photograph here) was the grandson of Revolutionary War generals on both sides of his family and in Jan 1838 married Anna Maria Shoenberger (1816 -1883) whose father Dr Peter Shoenberger (16 Oct 1782-18 Jun 1854), owned many ironworks in PA.

Dr. Peter Shoenberger (sometimes Peter Schoenberger) was known as the Iron King, and he made a sizeable fortune mining and refining iron ore in the Pittsburgh area. For the 1850 census, he disclosed assets of $1,000,000, but according to the New York Times when he died in 1854 he was worth $5,000,000.

As seems to be relatively common with large fortunes, there was a large court case over his estate, see NYT for May 11, 1892. For more information on his career, see the 1961 book, "The Iron King: the story of Peter Shoenberger, early ironmaster of central Pennsylvania - his industrial empire,his family, his times," by Calvin W. Hetrick.

In 1868/69 Henry Miller Watts was the United States Ambassador to Austria. He also wrote about his own grandfather in "A Memoir of General Henry Miller, by His Grandson, Henry Miller Watts." Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 11 (1887), 341-45; 12 (1888), 425-31. For more about Henry Miller Watts see Henry Miller Watts, Class of 1824

For some reason, which is currently not obvious, Anna and Maynard were married in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England see BMD AMJ 1905. Possibly they were there in connection with family history research for the book about Samuel Greenleaf Ladd and the Ladd family history which Horatio Oliver Ladd published in 1927, see Samuel Greeleaf Ladd and Caroline De Oliver Vinal Ladd by Horatio ... There is also evidence that Maynard Ladd travelled to England to research family history in 1893 even prior to his graduation, see MISC. PAGE

This undated relief sculpture of her husband Maynard Ladd was made by Anna Coleman Ladd.

They had two daughters Gabriella May Ladd (1906-1972) and Vernon Abbott Ladd (27 May 1909-17 Oct 1970). Gabriella remained unmarried until her mid forties when she married Henry Dwight Sedgwick (1861–1957) an American lawyer and author. At the time of their marriage he was 92 and she was 46. The full front page of the Boston Herald pictured them walking down the aisle at their marriage on May 18, 1953, see Henry Dwight Sedgwick - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Vernon was also a daughter, despite the name and she married the philosopher and author Gregory Vlastos (27 Jul 1907-12 Oct 1991), and shown here, who was born in Turkey and dedicated his book "Platonic Studies" to Vernon, see Gregory Vlastos - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Thus there was very much of a literary tradition in the family.

The Ladd family can be traced readily through the census records. Maynard Ladd had a distinguished career as an M.D. including; Associate in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, President, American Pediatric Society, Physician to Boston Children's Hospital and to the Boston Dispensary, Medical Director, Boston Children's Aid Society, and the Church.

Working in her studio in her apartment home at 270 Clarendon Street Boston, in the building shown here, Ladd became one of the city's most prolific sculptors, creating fountain pieces, portrait busts, memorials, and reliefs, in addition to authoring two novels, Hieronymus Rides in 1912, and The Candid Adventurer in 1913.

In May 1913, The New York Times reviewed the latter book and said "Mrs Ladd writes with a light and delicate touch in which there are also a certain nervous strength and a precision of method that auger well for her future work".

Between 1907 and 1915 Ladd had solo exhibitions at the Gorham Gallery in New York, the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., and at the Pennsylvania Academy in Philadelphia.

Her husband Maynard Ladd, by now a prominent Boston physician, was in charge of the American Red Cross hospital near Toul, France, during World War I.

In late 1917 in Paris, Anna Ladd founded the American Red Cross Studio for Portrait-Masks to provide cosmetic masks to be worn by men who had been badly disfigured in World War I. Her services earned her the Légion d'Honneur Crois de Chevalier and the Serbian Order of Saint Sava.

Although the masks were uncomfortable and unpopular, the facial prosthetics were produced partly because of economic necessity. Injured servicemen needed to provide for themselves and their families after they left the forces and feel as included in society as possible.

The Paris studio alone produced 220 masks between 1918 and 1919 and many masks covered only small portions of the face such as the nose or eye. The masks were made of copper and had to be painted to match the facial colouring of the wearer. This indicates Ladd did have experience of painting in a fine and delicate manner.

Ladd had relatives in San Diego and worked there seasonally from 1936 to 1938. From even before World War I, Ladd had executed busts of many famous people and her career included busts of Anna Pavlova, Ethel Barrymore and Eleanor Duse.

In the Spring of 1937, she took a studio at the Spanish Village in Balboa Park, Dan Diego. Here Ladd produced Spirit of California (shown here) which she exhibited in a show of her bronzes at the Fine Arts Gallery.

While in San Diego, she completed a bronze head of Reginald Poland, director of the Fine Arts Gallery, also shown here.

To confirm the miniature is a self portrait, it would be necessary to compare it with a photograph of her at the same age.

However, the photograph shown here of her, taken some 15 years later during World War I with soldier's masks in the background, does look very similar, especially around the eyes. Comparison also needs to recognise that an artist's self portrait is normally a mirror or reversed image, when compared with a photograph.

Anna Coleman Ladd is primarily known as a sculptor and no other miniature paintings by her are known, which increases the likelihood this miniature portrait by her is a self portrait.

For more about her see HTML Version of ProclaimHer and for reference to her papers, see A Finding Aid to the Anna Coleman Ladd Papers, 1881-1950, in the ...

Sculptures by her come on the market quite regularly and are quite varied in nature. What is not yet clear is whether each bronze was unique, or whether Ladd made multiple copies.

Two here were sold by Rago Auctions in May 2007.

A bronze satyr, 18.75ins high, titled "Forest Pan", signed and dated "A C LADD 1907" with foundry mark "Roman Bronze Works N.Y", was estimated by Rago at $2000/$2500 and sold for $1600 plus commission. Interestingly Skinners had a similar sculpture at their sale 2340/419 in 2006, but with a verdigris finish, which was estimated at $1200/1600.

Also at the Rago sale, a smaller satyr and sleeping nude, 10ins high, signed "A.C.LADD" with foundry mark "IDEAL CASTING [illegible]"; was estimated at $1500/$2000 and sold for $1400 plus commission.

However, her work can fetch more, as indicated by this bronze of "The lovers", available on eBay for $8500, 6 3/4" high x 16" long x 4 5/8" deep. Signed on the mid rear base "A.C. LADD"; Foundry mark: "T.F. McMann Sons" of Connecticut.

The next two bronzes are of very different size. The solid vertical plaque is 8ins high and sold for $600.

The very large bronze shown beneath it was titled "Anteros Eros". It shows a pair of reclining figures, is 80ins long and 32ins high, and sold at Cottone Auctions for $15400.

References in the literature include: Bénézit, Vol. VIII, pg. 140. Dictionary of American Painters Sculptors & Engravers, M. Fielding, pg. 538. Dictionary of American Sculptors, Glenn B. Opitz, pg. 228. Dictionary of Women Artists, Petteys, pg. 413. North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century, Heller & Heller, pg. 322. Thieme/Becker: Vol. 21/22, pg. 189. Who Was Who in American Art: Vol. II, pg. 1924. The Life of Anna Coleman Ladd, Seaver Howland Press, 1920, a biography.

NOTES: Sculptor (portrait busts, reliefs, symbolic figures, fountains, soldier’s monuments) from Boston but lived much of her life abroad. Her husband Maynard Ladd, a Boston physician, was in charge of the American Red Cross hospital near Toul, France, during World War I. Anna Ladd founded the American Red Cross Studio of Portrait Masks, France 1917-19, to make portrait masks for mutilated soldiers.

This Anna Ladd bronze of Charles Lindberg was sold by Skinners and one of Amelia Earhart also by Anna Ladd was sold by Barringtons' Auctions in November 2007. Anna Ladd studied drawings and sculpture with Bela Pratt and Charles Grafly and in Paris and Rome with Rodin, Ettore Ferrari, and Emilio Gallori.

Anna Ladd received the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and the Serbian Order of Saint Sava. She was the author of "Hieronymus Rides" and "The Candid Adventurer".

She was a member of various Societies, including: American Federation of Arts; Art Institute of Chicago; Boston Guild of Artists; Concord Art Assn.; Copley Society, Boston; National Academy of Design; National Sculpture Society, NYC; North Shore Arts Assn; San Diego Arts Assn. Museums: Borghese Collection and Farnese Collection, both Rome; Boston Art Museum; Gardner Collection, Boston; Blanden Memorial Art Gallery, Fort Dodge, Iowa; Rhode Island School of Design.

This plaque titled "Coup" was sold by Skinners in September 2007 for $4250, compared to a pre sale estimate of $8,000/$12,000. It was inscribed "AC Ladd sc.t ff angel 1924" l.l., stamped "IDEAL CASTING CO.PROV. R.I." and was a bronze relief with a red patina, 35ins by x 42.5ins.

Public Works: Boston Public Gardens, "Fountain of Youth", Memorials, Hamilton, Beverly Farms, Manchester Library, Widener Library, Harvard, Brookline, all in Mass; Brookline and Grand Rapids, Mich.; South Bend, IN.; Fort Dodge, Iowa; Torresdale, PA; Brookgreen Gardens, S.C.

Exhibitions: : actively from 1907 with solo shows in 1913 at Gorham Gallery, NYC, Corcoran Gallery, Wash. D.C., and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; Art Institute of Chicago, 1907-16; National Academy of Design, 6 annuals,1908-28; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Annuals, 1908-12, 1916-17, 1920-27; Salon de Soc. Nat. des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1913; Espos. Intern. Della Secessione, Rome, 1914; Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, Hon. Mention, 1915; National Sculpture Society, 1923; International Exposition, Philadelphia, 1926; California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 1929; Address in 1933, at the Boston Art Museum; Golden Gate Exposition, 1939.

None of the above bronzes are in this collection, but in November and December 2007, two bronzes by Anna Coleman Watts Ladd have been acquired for this collection.

The larger is 50cm x 20cm and is of a nymph holding aloft a bowl inscribed on the lower side; "After Arretine bowl made in the 1st century BC". The base of the nymph is inscribed "A C Ladd". Recently, a second example of the bowl has been acquired. It is identical in size and design, but has a reddish copper toned finish, instead of the bronze green.

Arretine ware is a type of fine Roman pottery coated in a red slip dating to the first centuries AD and BC. It originated in Arretium, the modern day town of Arezzo in Tuscany. Arretine ware vessels were often made from moulds in order to imitate more expensive metal items. Although intended for the markets in Rome the style was popular and soon spread across the empire and beyond. By the end of the first century AD it had been superseded by the easier to manufacture Samian ware.

Thus, interestingly, whereas Arretine ware was pottery made to imitate metal items, Anna Ladd sculpted her bowl in metal to imitate pottery!

The smaller is untitled, but a reference has been seen to a work by Anna Ladd titled "The Munitions Worker" and this may be that work. It is 23cm x 17cm and is signed "A C Ladd Paris 1918".

The plaque depicts a female munitions worker in the foreground working at a lathe, and in the background three French soldiers marching towards a mother and child.

This bronze obviously dates from Ladd's time in Paris during World War I, when she was assisting her husband to make facial masks for soldiers as shown above, whose faces were disfigured by wounds during the war.

Few people realise that Anna Coleman Ladd also wrote two fiction books.

A copy of "Hieronymous Rides" published in 1912 has been obtained for this collection. It is sub-titled "Episodes in the Life of a Knight and Jester at the Court of Maximillian, King of the Romans."

The other book was published in 1913 and is titled "The Candid Adventurer". Both books attracted good reviews and so it appears Ladd could have been a successful author.


It was perhaps the outbreak of World War I in 1914 that redirected her attentions towards scuplture. 666b, 1290, 1294.

Later - a kind visitor has supplied more information about Anna C Watts, including a photo taken with her mother taken when she was 10 months old. 
Later again  - the same descendent of the family has provided a further example of her work and a family recollection;
Now for another chapter of the story. It concerns the unsigned bronze figurine in the attached photograph. This little baby lived on a low coffee table in my grandmother's sunny parlor window when I was a small boy, and though I did not have much of a doll collection I did play with that baby a lot. It was most likely given to my grandmother by the artist, Anna Coleman Watts Ladd. They were born the same year, and both related to half sisters --  children of Anna Maria Coleman (Parker) (Peace), by two different fathers. My grandmother had another piece by Anna, a dancer which I do not remember. Unfortunately it followed a different line in the family and has disappeared.


Anonymous said...

She grew up in England, and I know where some of her correspondence is in case researchers are interested. She was close friends with Caroline Drayton Phillips, the wife of diplomat William

Susan Rauch said...

Just did research in DC. Do you know if there are any notes or journals from her work with the portrait masks? None in the Smithsonian archive that I could find except a sitting book, which was surprising since pre and post war she kept meticulous notes and journals of other work.

Anonymous said...

Susan, When did you last post here?