Hidden in Plain Sight:
The Material World of Early Springfield


Portrait of Enos girl

c. 1830-1840
Collection of the Illinois State Museum

The subject of this portrait is likely Martha Enos, who was born in 1824 and died in 1837. Her family owned the sideboard shown elsewhere in this digital exhibit; many of young Martha’s meals would have been served from it.

While portraits of children were not uncommon, they were commissioned less frequently than those of adults. It is possible that Martha’s widowed mother anticipated her death and commissioned this portrait to preserve her image while she was still alive.

This portrait was likely created by an itinerant artist in the 1830s; possibly William Hanback, who passed through Springfield in 1832. Itinerant artists would travel from place to place, renting facilities or working for food and lodging, and stay until all interested subjects had been painted. Their prices were low enough that they put the acquisition of portraits within the reach of the burgeoning middle class.