This is a souvenir portrait of Catharina Helena , a little person who was only two foot four inches (ca. 70 cm)in height. She is shown posing jauntily on a tabletop wearing a dress with a low neckline, and an open overskirtwith lace and ribbons, and a decorative hat.
Catharina Helena Stöber was exhibited in fairs all over Germany. She toured from her teens well intomiddle age with her father Johann who managed the exhibition. Her exhibition is said to have been verypopular and to have made a great deal of money. (Katritzky p.119 quoting Rudin, Lebenselixier, 72, 77,137.164). Stöber was known for her perfect proportions and for her elegant dress (as pictured here).There are at least three other images of her held at the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbütel, one of themby Nilson (a variation of our picturing the subject without her hat), all of them extremely rare.
The Artist Johann Esaias Nilson was an important portrait artist, miniaturist and engraver and editor fromAugsburg. He trained under Johann Thomas Kraus (1696-1775) in the fundamentals of architecture and inperspective.
Ref: Katritzky, M. A. Women, medicine and theatre, 1500-1750: literary mountebanks and performingquacks. 2007
Provenance. Princes of Oettingen-Wallerstein, Maihingen and Harburg (not stamped; cf. Lugt 2715a); C.G.Boerner, Ltd. (Inventory #: 1275)