THE WORLD OF SAMUEL MEEKER, MERCHANT OF PHILADELPHIA, AND GILBERT STUART, AMERICAN PORTRAIT ARTIST

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Judith: descended from the Anthony family!

The name Anthony will not mean much to most.
But the sister of Joseph Anthony (who ran a merchant shipping business in Philadelphia), Elizabeth Anthony, married the millwright Gilbert Stuart Sr. who came from Perth, Scotland.
Joseph Anthony had a son Joseph Anthony Jr.; Joseph Jr. married Henrietta Hillegas, pictured to the left in a portrait by GS.

Sister Elizabeth Anthony Stuart's child was Gilbert Stuart; thereby, Joseph Jr and Gilbert were first cousins.

Yesterday I received an email from Judy D., her first sentence to me:
I just stumbled onto your blog. My name is Judy D. I am a direct descendant of Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Anthony (my gggg grandparents) and Captain Joseph Anthony (my ggggg grandfather). All of whom sat for Gilbert Stuart. Also…Gilbert Stuart was the nephew of Capt. Anthony…and first cousin to Joseph Anthony.

With understated excitement I wrote her:
The Anthonys are celebrated in the GS lore because his mother was an Anthony, Elizabeth Anthony. And her brother Joseph A had the means to help support Gilbert in those early days, arranging some of his first contacts for work, and possibly helping to support him on his trips to Europe, possibly enabling him to introduce himself to Benjamin West in London ....so most likely you are at least indirectly related to GS?
Any artists in the family? :-)

Her reply:
GS and I are actually 1st cousins, 6 times removed. He and my gggg grandfather were 1st cousins, and I am 6 generations further down the line. ...All of our family has some degree of musical talent, which we come by naturally on both sides. Along with music, my brother has dabbled in painting. My nephew is a surreal artist. My oldest daughter designs & manufacturers her own line of children’s clothing. None of our family has carried on with portraiture.

So this indeed is very exciting. I have asked Judith to look at older photos of her ancestors, to check for resemblances to Mrs. Joseph Anthony Jr. & her husband Joseph Anthony Jr. It can be noted here that Stuart's talent and interest in music equalled his artistic ability; when he first arrived in London age 19, he earned a salary of 150 pounds a year as an organist at the Saint Catherine's Church in Foster Lane. (Hearing auditions, he applied for the position!)

Description of Mrs Joseph Anthony, courtesy of the Met Museum of Art
Mrs. Joseph Anthony, Jr. (1766–1812) was born Henrietta Hillegas in Philadelphia, the daughter of Michael Hillegas, the first treasurer of the United States. She married Joseph Anthony, Jr. a silversmith, on December 29, 1785. This picture, painted probably between 1795 and 1798, compares with many other portraits of society women that Stuart painted in Philadelphia around this time. Although Stuart abandoned his London manner in his more forthright portrayals of men, he continued to infuse the portraits of female sitters like Mrs. Anthony with an almost sensuous vitality.

~

9 comments:

The Clever Pup said...

Great stuff. Happy that you made contact with this relative of Gibby. Whose face by the way is becoming very familiar to me. I think he looks like Irish actor Adrian Dunbar - maybe Gary Oldman.

einbildungskraft said...

hi clever pupchen

Yes, and Judith is obsessed with genealogy like SO MANY of us! ((Now I will have to look up this irish actor :-))
Our Gibby was such a character. Its a real joy to be dipping into this world ...

emikk said...

Can I apply to be a descendent?

einbildungskraft said...

to the Talented One,

Only when you learn how to spell descendAnt, descendent is an adj meaning "descending."
:-)))
glad that you are back, checkin out the scene!

David McCann said...

Ah the Hillegas family! In her letter to David Rittenhouse asking his assistance in preserving the home from those dastardly British - Catherine Wister Miles cites the Miles' Philadelphia home as being next to the Hillegas house.

Seems as Samuel Miles was a prisoner of war in NYC, the home was empty while the Miles family was in hiding in one of the suburbs of the city.

She - Catherine - was made of some pretty strong stuff to keep the family togther!

A copy of the 1776 letter was provided to me by the Philadelphia based American Philosophical Society.

All good wishes. Dave McCann

David McCann said...

Now let us enter into yet another source of controversy - the portait of Catherine Littlefield Greene now housed in the Edward Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah. Let's be bold. The attribution is incorrect. It, too, is a Gilbert Stuart.But why the artistic community is so long in acknowledging this remains a mystery to me.

On the occasion of her second marriage, June 16, 1796, Catherine travelled to Philadelphia where the witnesses for the wedding where none other than George and Martha Washington.

Hypothesis - what a fitting wedding present for the bride who was always close to the Washington's; particularly as Catherine's first husband, General Nathanael Greene, was Washington's "right hand" man during the war's southern campaign.

The style of the portrait is Stuart - so what's the delay? Ah the troika of experts!


The New Georgia Encyclopedia will soon feature the Catherine Greene portrait (as shown in the Telfair Museum) as part of their website.

The current website attribution is a copy with the Rhode Island Historical Society.

Catherine is reputed to be the real brains behind the cotton gin invention - but given women were not allowed to have patents - the credit has gone to Eli Whitney.

And, to quote the late Paul Harvey, "is the rest of the story"(!)

Jann R. said...

I came across your site and thought you might be interested to know that my husband and I own a painting of Joseph Anthony 3rd by Gilbert Stuart.

Jann Rudd

StimmeDesHerzens said...

Jann, It is almost a year later, I decided to do another post on Henrietta and discovered your comment. Can you send me a photo of Joseph III?
bethjena@gmail.com

jcmeyer24 said...

I just came across your site. I have a portrait of a young man, ruddy cheeked, well dressed from around 1800. I did some checking on the internet as I believe the painting to be extremely fine and possibly by Gilbert Stuart. In my checking I found that he painted a portrait of Joseph Anthony 3rd when he was 16 or 17. I always thought that the boy was either from a wealthy farm or sailing family because of his ruddy cheeks. Do you know if there is already a known painting of this young man and if so, could you tell me where to see it?

I would appreciate your help as I have had the portrait for over 30 years and have always wondered who it was.

Many thanks for your time.

Jeff Meyer

 
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