Thursday, July 16, 2009

Levin was a handsome young man; was his portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart?

What do you think? How old is the sitter? Are there any telltale clues?
I received a mail from Kelly Graziano, accompanied by this wonderful portrait of a family ancestor. His name is Leven Luckett.

I came across your website/blog today and thought I would send the enclosed photos. The portrait is of my husbands ancestor, Leven Luckett (b. 1804 in Loudon County, Virginia). I believe he ended up in Louisiana and that his son died in the civil war. I'm not 100% sure of the facts though.
The portrait is not signed or dated -- though it's a bit dirty and a few details have gotten lost in all the darkness surrounding the figure. So, what do you think? Could it be a Gilbert Stuart? Thanks!

my answer;
Hi Kelly,
One thing that I learned about attributing, is that it becomes easier and more convincing, the more the facts/times/places add up to a reasonable meeting that might have occurred between artist and sitter. But first, thanks for writing!
First, we figure about what age Luckett might be in the portrait, I figure around....30? Possible a tad younger, but also possibly a tad older. That puts the year of the sitting at about 1834 if he was born in 1804. Stuart died in 1828 in Boston.... That, I think, makes it fairly questionable, or, unlikely that it is by Stuart. The experts of course would have the last say, but I think that it is logical that your portrait is not by Stuart.
Do you have any other stories about Leven?

Thanks for writing again,

a brief story of the Luckett family provided by Kelly:
Samuel Luckett~ “Gentleman & pioneer of the Luckett family in America. The first evidence of this Samuel being in Maryland was in 1673 when he was recorded as being a citizen of Portobacco, Charles County, Maryland. From an inventory of his estate after his death showing the number of rooms in his mansion house and the articles of furniture contained in each room, it is indicative that he enjoyed a life of ease and affluence common to the Manorial life of a Maryland gentleman planter. He received thirty pounds of tobacco for his participation in the Nanticoke Indian War in the Fall of 1678.”
Grandson Colonel William Luckett born c. 1711 and wife Charity Middleton had ten children, Leven Luckett I was the youngest. He inherited the estate called “Luckett’s Merry Midnight” which was located in Frederick County and later settled in Loudon County, Virginia where he married Letitia Hooe Peyton, daughter of Colonel Francis Peyton and Frances Dade. Frances Dade was a direct descendant of the Princess Elizabeth Plantagenet, daughter of King Edward I, King of England.
Dr. Leven Luckett (the sitter in the portrait), son of Leven Luckett I and Letitia, was born in Virginia in 1804. He graduated in medicine from the University of Pennsylvania and settled in Rapides Parish, Louisiana about 1830. He was on the original Board of Trustees for Louisiana State University when the university was organized in Rapides Parish prior to the Civil War. His plantation was called “Ashbourne” and was located on the Red River about ten miles from the present town of Alexandria. He married Jane Adelaine Crain, daughter of Colonel Robert Alexander Crain and Elizabeth Wood. Elizabeth Wood was a direct descendant of Governor Robert Brooke of Maryland (Royal descent), Richard Smith (Attorney General of Maryland), General James John Mackall, and many dozens of other prominent Marylanders who grant colonial service to their descendants.

Kelly's answer to my note;
Thanks for your insight, but we're still holding out hope! I believe Levin must have had to be 24 if he was painted by Stuart in the last year of the artist's life. Not probably, but possible.



Maureen said...

Stylistically it resembles Stuart's work but it lacks the atmosphere and details that make his paintings so beautiful. Perhaps someone who studied under him?

Don Hunter said...

I recently conducted an archaeological survey on a portion of Ashbourne Plantation near Boyce, Louisiana, which was owned by Dr. Levin Luckett and his family. I would like to obtain a high quality image of Luckett's portrait to use in my report and would like to know its provenience. Could you have Kelley e-mail me a I would appreciate it. Thanks, Don Hunter, Senior Archaeologist.

StimmeDesHerzens said...

It would take a lot of time to find his address, I will look for it but can't guarantee I will find it!

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