Sunday, November 17, 2013

18C American Women + a bit of intrigue by Cosmo Alexander (1724-1772)

Cosmo Alexander (1724-1772) Self Portrait c 1747

Cosmo Alexander (1724-1772) was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, the son of Catholic portrait painter & engraver John Alexander (1690-1765) and the great grandson of George Jameson (c.1587-1644), whom Horace Walpole called "the Vandyke of Scotland."

1745-50s Cosmo Alexander (1724-1772.) Portrait of a Jacobite Lady.

Alexander was so staunchly committed to the Jacobite cause, that he had to flee Scotland for participating in the 1745 Rising. After the disasterous Jacobite defeat at Culloden, he sought refuge in nurturing, sympathetic, artistic Rome between 1747-1751. He carried with him a letter of introduction to the Jacobite court declaring that he was "a lad of genius in painting."

1770 Cosmo Alexander (1724-1772). Margaret Stiles Manning.

From that point on, Alexander studied art & painted portraits of exiled Catholic leaders including "Bonnie" Prince Charles Edward Stuart. He continued studing in Livorno & Paris in 1751-52, before returning to London to live in a house he would soon inherit from architect James Gibbs (1674-1754), who was also a Catholic born in Aberdeen, Scotland.

1770 Cosmo Alexander (1724-1772). Mary Jemima Balfour.

Cosmo Alexander left London for the Netherlands a decade later and then sailed for America in 1766, after the death of his father. In the Atlantic colonies he focused on connecting with the Scottish community, moving from town to town in search of commissions. Records show that he joined the St. Andrew's Society, a charitable group organized to assist fellow Scots, in both New York & Philadelphia, where he paused to paint.

1770 Attributed to Cosmo Alexander (1724-1772). Girl with a Lamb.

He also painted in Boston & New Jersey. Colonial governor William Franklin (loyalist son of Benjamin Franklin) wrote in his correspondence that Alexander lived for several weeks in the governor's mansion in Burlington, New Jersey, painting and receiving patrons there.

1770 Attributed to Cosmo Alexander (1724-1772). Girl with a Squirrel.

Colonial Governor Franklin, Benjamin Franklin's son, mentioned Alexander's frail condition in one of his letters to England, "He was last year deprived of the use of his limbs by a fit of sickness, but is since recovered & got to work again."

Alexander met his greatest portrait success in Newport, Rhode Island, where one young man remembered he was "of delicate health and prepossessing manners" and that he "associated almost exclusively with the gentlemen from Scotland."  In Newport, Alexander met 14-year-old Gilbert Stuart (1754-1828), who was the son of a Scottish immigrant snuff millwright also thought to be a Jacobite. Bright young Stuart had already painted the famous portrait Dr. Hunter's Spaniels, which hangs today in the Hunter House Mansion in Newport, when he was 12-years-old.

Fellow Jacobite exile Dr. William Hunter, who owned the spaniels in Newport, convinced Alexander to take young Stuart as his apprentice. The pair traveled south in 1771, visiting Williamsburg & Charleston, before departing together for Edinburgh, where Alexander died suddenly the next year on August 25, 1772. Attempting briefly and without success to earn a living as a painter, Gilbert Stuart returned to Newport in 1773.

Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828). Self Portrait

The first portrait in this posting is from Scotland. In the spring of 2003, the Drambuie Liqueur Company sent its Jacobite art collection on tour to the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia. Among the paintings attributed to Alexander was Portrait of a Jacobite Lady, showing a woman in a tartan riding habit holding the Jacobite symbol, the white rose.

During the 1745 Rebellion when Bonnie Prince Charlie tried to wrest back the British throne from the Hanoverian dynasty, he arrived in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh to great fanfare. Many women donned tartan dresses & Jacobite symbols. The Prince thanked one of the most enthusiastic Edinburgh families supporting the Jacobite cause, the MacKinnons, by giving them the secret recipe for the after-dinner whisky liqueur called Drambuie. The MacKinnon family ran a company producing the spirit for over 250 years.

The painting, Portrait of a Jacobite Lady, demonstrates how art can be used to express a political belief. After the 1745 uprising, the British government made it illegal to be a Jacobite. Subjects in the Scottish Highland region (the area where most of the prince's supporters lived) were forbidden to carry weapons. Obviously, supporting someone to overthrow the ruler was against the law; and if a subject were discovered to be a Jacobite, the sentence would be death. Jacobites had to express their support of the Stuart family in secret or leave Scotland, as Cosmo Alexander did.

18C American Women by Joseph Blackburn 1700-1780


Although it is not certain, artist Joseph Blackburn was probably born, schooled, & died in England. He clearly was taught painting in the English Rocco portrait style & his particular skill was in painting elegant fabrics & fashions on gracefully portrayed sitters. We do know that before he came to the American colonies, he sailed first to Bermuda, where he spent 2 years painting portraits.

1753 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Mary Lea (Mrs. John Harvey).

He left that island for the potential of a broader client base in the growing Atlantic towns of the British American colonies.  He was painting actively in the colonies from 1754-1763. He arrived in Newport from Bermuda in 1754, and then traveled to Boston (1755-58), and on to Portsmouth (1758-62). He returned to London in 1763.

1754 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1753-1763). Mary Sylvester

He arrived in his first colonial American port town with a letter of introduction from a locally known and respected member of genteel society.

1754 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Abigail Chesebrough (Mrs. Alexander Grant).

The 1754 letter of introduction from a family member of one of Blackburn's former clients addressed to friends in the artist's next port-of-call encourages both Blackburn's social acceptance and his employment.

1754 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763) Lady.

Joseph Blackburn's letter of introduction to Newport society, "I hope youl excuse the liberty I shall now take of recommending the bearer Mr Blackburne to your favor & friendship, he is late from the Island of Bermuda a Limner by profession & is allow’d to excell in that science, has now spent some months in this place, & behav’d in all respects as becomes a Gentleman, being possess’d with the agreeable qualities of great modesty, good sence & genteel behaviour he purposes if suitable encouragements to make some stay in Boston, and will be an entire stranger there...shall therefore be obliged to you or friends for any civilities you are pleased to shew him, my best Compliments...to your good lady Miss Sucky and Miss Nancy & who’s Pictures I expect to see in Boston drawn by the above Gent[lema]n."

1754 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Elizabeth Pelham (Mrs. Peter Harrison).

Just like other colonial portraitists, Blackburn copied many of his poses and costumes from English mezzotints executed in the baroque style of Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723) & Peter Lely (1618–1680) and the updated rococo take of Thomas Hudson (1701–1779).

1754 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Mrs David Chesebrough.

Blackburn painted fanciful depictions of the pastoral shepherdess, lavish silk gowns, and extravagant formal urns & gardens that reflected the fantasy desires of his colonial gentry clients living far from London's easy access to excess.

1757 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Abigail Browne (Mrs. Joseph Blaney)


1760 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Eunice Fitch


1757 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Mrs James Pitts


1757 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Susan Apthorp (Mrs. Thomas Bulfinch)


1759 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Hannah Babcock (Mrs. John Bours)


1761 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Elizabeth Saltonstall (Mrs. Silas Deane)


1754 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Mrs John Pigott of Bermuda


1760 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Hannah Wentworth Atkinson


1761 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Elizabeth Browne Rogers


1762 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Portrait of a Woman


1762-63 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Mrs Samuel Cutts


Joseph Blackburn (American colonial era artist, 1700-1780) Mrs Thomas Jones


Joseph Blackburn (American colonial era artist, 1700-1780) Mrs. Knight of Gosfield


1755 Joseph Blackburn (American colonial era artist, 1700-1780) Abigail Russell Curwen


Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Ann Phillips


 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Mrs Gillam Phillips Marie Faneuil


1762 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Anne Saltenstall


1762 Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Anne Saltenstall


Joseph Blackburn (fl in the colonies 1754-1763). Elizabeth Hughes

18C American Women by John Durand 1731-1805


John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805)  Catharine Beekman 1766


In London on September 15, 1760, John Durand, apprenticed for 7 years to decorative carriage & heraldry painter Charles Catton, Senior (1728-1798). (Public Records Office, London, IRI 1759, Folio 144) In the mid 1760s, apparently somewhat shy of the full 7 year commitment, student John Durand sailed for America, offering to paint inspiring historical paintings for the colonial populace, which was only interested in portraits


1780 John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805) Mrs. James Greenway


John Durand first appeared in newpapers in the colonies in the spring of 1768; although he may have been painting in Virginia, before he advertised in New York. If he was painting in Virginia in 1765, he had certainly left his apprenticeship in London, before its contract expired.


John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805)  Lucy Skelton Gilliam or Mrs Robert Gilliam


His advertisements reflect his decorative heraldry and carriage painting & staining apprenticeship, as well as his desire to become a history painter. In order to support himself, Durand settled for the common ground for a painter in the American colonies, he painted portraits.


1770 John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805)  Mrs John Lothrop


It is reported that he placed an ad in the New York Journal on April 2, 1768, offering drawing instructions in New York. "Any young Gentleman inclined to learn the Principles of Design, so far as to be able to draw any objects and shade them with Indian Ink or Water Colours, which is both useful and ornamental may be taught by John Durand...at his House on Broad Street, near City Hall, for a reasonable Price."


1769 John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805) Elizabeth Boush.


Perhaps he did not attract any interested students. Just days later, he did place the following notice in several papers: April 11, 18, 25, & May 2, 1768 in the New York Gazette, or Weekly Post Boy. April 21 & May 5, 1768 in the New York Journal "The subscriber having from his infancy endeavoured to qualify himself in the art of historical painting, humbly hopes for that encouragement from the gentlemen and ladies of this city and province, that so elegant and entertaining an art has always obtain'd from the people of the most improved minds and best taste and judgment, in all polite nations in every age. And tho' he is sensible that o excel, (in this branch of painitng especially) requires a more ample fun of universal and accurate knowledge than he can pretend to, in geometry, geography, perspective, anatomy, expression of the passions, ancient and modern history, &c. &c. yet he hopes, from the good nature and indulgence of the gentlemen and ladies who employ him, that his humble attempts, in which his best endeavours will not be wanting, will meet with acceptance, and give satisfaction; and he proposes to work at as cheap rates as any person in America."


1768-70 John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805) Hannah Farmer (Mrs. Benjamin Peck)


"To such gentelmen and ladies as have thought but little upon this subject and might only regard painting as a superfluous ornament, I would just observe, that history painting, besides being extrememly ornamental has many important uses.--It presents to our view some of the most interesting scenes recorded in ancient or modern hisory, gives us more lively and perfect ideas of the things represented, than we could received from a historical account of them, and frequently recals to our memory a long train of events with which those representations were connected. They show us a proper expression of the passions excited by every event, and have an effect, the very same in kind (but stronger) that a fine historical description of the same passage would have upon a judiciouos reader. Men who have distinguished themselves for the good of their country and mankind, may be set before our eyes as examples, and to give us their silent lessons--and besides, every judicuous friend and visitant shares, with us in the advantage and improvement, and increases it value to ourselves." John Durand Near the City Hall, Broad Street


1768-70 John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805) Susannah or Mary Bontecou


But after his May 5th notice in the New York papers, he had moved north rather suddenly. On May 13, 20, and 27, 1768, he placed the following noice in the Connecticut Journal. "John Durand, Portrait Painter, Intends to Stay in this Town part of the warm season. If any Gentlemen or Ladies, choose to hae thier Pictures Drawn, they may have them Drawn a good deal cheaper than has yet been seen; by applying to the Subscriber living at Captain Camp's House, where several of his Perfomances may be seen. And for more Conveniences of an Gentlemen or Ladies, that would have them Drawn at their Houses, he will wait upon them whenever they please if sent for." John Durand.


1768 Attributed by some to John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805) Sarah Whitehead Hubbard


This announcement seems to imply that John Durand would be moving south, when the cold weather came to Connecticut. He was apparently somewhat unsuccessful as a portrait painter in New York and New England, although he did paint in Connecticut. From dates on his portraits & notes in account journals, he was working in Virginia in 1770-71, 1775, and 1780.


John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805) Jane Beekman 1766


He advertised twice in Williamsburg, Virginia in the 1770s. On June 7, 1770 & June 21, 1770, he placed the following notice in the Virginia Gazette. "Portrait Painting. Gentlemen and Ladies that are inclined to have their pictures drawn will find the subscriber ready to serve them, upon very moderate terms, either for cash, short credit, or country produce. at their own homes or where he lives, which is next door to the Hon. The Speaker's. He will likewise wait upon Gentlemen and Ladies in the country, if they send for him. He will also paint, gild, and varnish, wheel carriages and put coats of arms, or ciphers, upon them, in a neater and more lasting manner than was ever done in this country."


John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805) Mary Beekman 1766


John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805) The Rapalje Children


1770 John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805) Martha Tucker (Mrs Thomas Newton II)


Attributed by some to John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805)  Boys on a Walk within a Walled Garden. 1765


John Durand John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805) Mrs Adriaan Bancker c 1775


John Durand (French-born?, English-trained, American painter, 1731-1805) Anne Billhop Farmer Jarvis, 1772

Saturday, November 16, 2013

18C American Women 1740s

1740 John Heaton (American colonial era artist, c 1695-a 1742) Magdalena Douw (Mrs Harme) from Albany, New York. (This artist's name also spelled in records of the period Iten, Eyton, Eaton, & Easton.) He married Maria Hooghkerk (daughter of Lucus or Luycas & Judek Marselis) who was born about June 1698, in New Albany, NY. They married June, 1730 in Albany, NY. During the 1730s & early 40s, these Heatons lived in Albany, where their children were baptised in the Dutch church in 1736 & 1738. After 1742, they appear to have relocated to New Jersey, where they joined the Reformed church in Bergen County.

1740 John Smibert (American colonial era artist,1688-1751). Portrait of a Lady.


1740s Artist Unknown. Jocohabed Michaels (Mrs. Judah Mears).


1745-47 Unknown Artist. Martha Salisbury Quincy (Mrs. Norton Quincy).


1746 Joseph Badger (American colonial era artist, 1708-1765). Eliz Storer (Mrs. Isaac Smith).


1746 Robert Feke (American colonial era artist, 1707-1751). Anne McCall.  Robert Feke was born on Long Island, New York. Little is known of his life until 1741, when he painted the Family of Isaac Royall. There are about 16 portraits known to be painted by Feke plus others argued to be by him. Feke worked in Boston, painting the families of wealthy merchants & landowners and seemed to disappear from the records about 1750.


1746 Robert Feke (American colonial era artist, 1707-1751). Anne Shippen (Mrs. Charles Willing) 1710-1791.


1746 Robert Feke (American colonial era artist, 1707-1751). Mary McCall (1725-1799) (Mrs William Plumstead).

1748 Robert Feke (American colonial era artist, 1707-1751). Grizzell Eastwick (Mrs. Charles Apthorp).

1748 Robert Feke (American colonial era artist, 1707-1751). Mrs. Isaac Winslow


1748 Robert Feke (American colonial era artist, 1707-1751) Mrs John Banister


1748 Robert Feke (American colonial era artist, 1707-1751) Elizabeth Erving (Mrs. James Bowdoin II)


1748 Robert Feke (American colonial era artist, 1707-1751). Susannah Faneuil (Mrs. James Boutineau).


1749 John Greenwood (American colonial era artist, 1727-1792). Mrs. Henry Bromfield (Margaret Fayerweather) John Greenwood was a portrait painter & engraver born in Boston, Massachusetts. He apprenticed with Thomas Johnston, a sign painter & engraver from 1742 to 1745, where he copied various English mezzotints. Besides portraits, Greenwood painted satirical works. The artist left Boston in 1752, sailing to the Dutch colony of Surinam & then on to Paris & England. Greenwood died in London, England in 1792.

c. 1749 Robert Feke (Amerian colonial era artist, 1707-1751). Mary (Mrs. John Channing)

1740s Robert Feke (American colonial era artist, 1707-1751) Portrait of a Young Lady


c. 1749 Joseph Badger (American colonial era artist, 1708-1765). Elizabeth Campbell (Mrs. William Foye)

1749 Robert Feke (American colonial era artist, 1707-1751) Mary Ward Flagg