To date, nothing has been found about Clara Colby, who appears to be a hitherto unrecorded artist. However, she was obviously a very talented artist.
The profile miniature portrait has a plaque reading "231 Commodore Preble - Clara Colby". It is signed on the lower right "Clara Colby" and on the backing paper it is inscribed "Commodore Preble - painted on ivory by Clara Colby". The significance of the number 231 is unknown, perhaps it relates to an exhibition reference number.
The frame is of solid wood with a thick, turned ivory fillet surrounding the miniature itself. This is a very expensive and unusual type of frame. A little unfortunately, it appears when Clara Colby copied the portrait from the medal, she was not aware of the correct shade of blue for his uniform, as it should have been navy blue.
The obverse and reverse of the Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to Commodore Edward Preble (1761-1807) of Falmouth, Maine, in 1805 for his efforts against the Barbary pirates of Tripoli, are shown here. The reverse shows the attack on Tripoli.
The medal was based upon a portrait drawn by Rembrandt Peale, a member of the famous American family of miniature painters. It was drawn as Preble passed through Philadelphia on his way home, about two weeks after the award was made public. The actual medal was given to him in 1806, not long before he died in 1807 at the age of 46.
For much more about him, see United States of America Congressional Gold Medal Recipient Edward ...
Interestingly, a miniature portrait painted by his great-granddaughter Alice Preble Tucker De Haas, was a recent addition to this collection, see De Haas, Alice Preble Tucker - portrait of a young... 1230