Medium: Watercolor-on-ivory miniature, in gold case
Miniature Portrait of James Madison
James Madison, architect of the U.S. Constitution, author of the Bill of Rights, and the fourth president of the United States (1809–1817), is the subject of this watercolor-on-ivory miniature created by Charles Willson Peale in 1783. Madison was slight in stature even by eighteenth-century standards (he was five feet, four inches tall, and never weighed more than 100 pounds), suffered from ill health, and was socially awkward. However, at age thirty-two he fell in love with Catherine "Kitty" Floyd, the daughter of a fellow delegate at the Continental Congress. Madison commissioned this miniature, which includes a braid of his own hair behind the image, and had it affixed to a pin so that his love could wear it. In turn, she gave Madison a matching miniature portrait of herself by Peale.
However, their courtship did not last. Kitty fell in love with another man and wrote a letter to Madison breaking off their relationship, much to Madison's sorrow.