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

Monday, July 20, 2009

This painting, to be soon sold at auction, is supposedly a Gilbert Stuart

LiveAuctioneers.com, since 2002, claims to be the leading auction-related Web site for fine art, antiques and collectibles. On July 25th, with a starting bid of $5000, the portrait above, said to be by Gilbert Stuart with a date of 1800 ~ of "Cyrus Blake" with 'original frame' ~ can be bought.
The painting is not signed nor dated, which is a common Stuart characteristic.
I note that the portrait is very similar to that of Leven Luckett, seen in the entry just before this one.


However, is it really an orginal Stuart? How the attribution was obtained is not given, nor are any other reasons provided for this claim, for example, a listing in Lawrence Park or Mason; nor is the provenance given. An attribution by one of the reigning experts would certainly add authenticity to this attribution, however without it, one must question whether the portrait has the "Gilbert Stuart signature all over it."



Stuart's signature style, besides the broad, free, spontaneous brushstrokes characteristic of the clothing... & what he is most famed for... is the translucent highlighted skin tones of the face, glowing with the soul and personality of the sitter.

A close-up of Blake's face seems to shows Stuart techniques, such as the nostrils and the cheek, but the range of the hues overall seems limited, the approach more conservative, without evidence of the Stuartistic genius.
Does the skin in this portrait have a life of its own, is it radiant, does it glow with the mind and soul of the sitter, overall does the portrait dazzle with strokes of swift spontaneity and spectacular radiant skin tones? Compare this portrait with others on this site.
I think it most probable that this portrait is not by Stuart, but possibly by the same talented painter of Levin Luckett? Is it ethical to sell a painting, glibly claiming it to be a Stuart original because of attribution by the owner....
~

2 comments:

Maureen said...

I agree, it could be the same person who did the Levin Luckett, You mentioned once that sometimes he had other people finish his work for him after he'd done the face. Perhaps it was one of those assistants. This, by the way, was a time honored tradition, many Italian Renaissance artists got their start finishing a master's work for them. And Andy Warhol had most of his work executed by his staff and would watch to make sure they did what he wanted. So the tradition continue.

Selling it as a Stewart without documents is shaky at best. But $5000 is not a bad price for an antique painting even if it's not a Stewart.

einbildungskraft said...

Re; "But $5000 is not a bad price for an antique painting even if it's not a Stuart."

True indeed.
I will, when time allows, check out some of the portrait artists coinciding with GS, from about 1805 to 1830 (cause the style of clothing is a bit later than Meeker, notice no powder in the hair and clothing is a touch more modern and Meeker was painted in 1803), maybe we can find the artist with this style! He is probably known, if anyone knows, please write!

 
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