from Rebecca Gratz & 19th-Century America: " 'In 1802 Miriam Gratz, Rebecca's mother, acceded to the requests of her children that she have her portrait painted. Rebecca went with her for her first sitting and wrote to her friend Maria Fenno about the experience. From a position "behind Stewart's chair" (that would be Gilbert Stuart she's talking about) she marveled "to see a countenance so dear to my heart appear on a board which but a few minutes before was a...piece of mahogany." She was struck by the resemblance and animation she saw in the work.
Miriam Gratz died suddenly in 1808, leaving her family in profound grief. Her husband Michael had suffered from depression for years, then sustained a stroke in 1800 from which he made a very partial recovery. He was as dependent on her as any of her children. Rebecca wrote to Maria in 1809: "We have indeed shut up our greatest treasure, the portrait of our beloved Mother, but we often visit it to weep over features too deeply graven on our hearts to require even the painter's skill to preserve. When first we were deprived of this best of parents I daily visited her picture, and felt that my only consolation was to gaze on it. But one day my father went into the room and was so overcome by looking at it, that we determined to sacrifice our wishes of having it constantly before us and close the room where it hangs.' "
from Lawrence Park:
Miriam, daughter of Joseph and Rosa (Bunn) Simon. She married in 1769 Michael Gratz (1740-1811), a Philadelphia merchant. Her daughter Rachel (1782-1823), Mrs. Solomon Moses, was painted by Stuart, and her husband and well-known daughter Rebecca were painted by Sully.
(I don't normally continue with the Park description of the portrait but do so here.)
Philadelphia, 1802. She is shown half-length, seated, three-quarters right, in a high, square-backed upholstered chair, studded with brass-headed nails, with her brown eyes directed to the spectator. A white lace ruffled cap with a white satin bow in front, gives only a glimpse of her hair. She wears a low-necked black dress, with a white muslin tucker, exposing the throat, and with loose sleeves reaching half-way between her elbows and wrists. About her neck is a short necklace. Her hands are brought together on her lap. In the background, a strip of light walnut panelled wall shows at the right, draped with a crimson curtain.