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

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The random monthly pick: Mrs. Barney Smith... and a famous country estate tells a story of a disgraced loyalist from the Revolutionary times

detail: Mrs. Barney Smith

The Random Monthly Pick
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A new feature, I will make a random monthly choice of a Stuart sitter, and tell their story as best I can!
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Mrs. Barney Smith, or Ann, was married in 1783 to Barney Smith of Taunton, Massachusetts, a Boston importer. They were the parents of three children, all of whom were painted by Stuart. The principle item of interest pertaining to this couple seems to be that Barney bought and occupied the "Governor Hutchinson estate in Milton" (from Lawrence Park). Thus, here I take a closer look at the story of the Governor and his famous country estate in Milton, Massachusetts.

Mrs. Barney Smith (1755-1843) by Gilbert Stuart, Boston 1817
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Thomas Hutchinson was the last royal Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and built in 1734 a country estate boasting spectacular views of the Neponset River and its tidal salt marshes, the Boston skyline, and the Boston Harbor Islands. He was a prominant Loyalist in the years before the American Revolution but his zealous loyalty to the crown inspired ridicule in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War, and, in 1774, shortly after the Boston Tea Party, Hutchinson fled to England.

“Hutchinson, naturally drawn to Milton, his great-grandfather having been one of its first settlers, made this his country seat in 1743, and it was his summer home from that time until his departure for England, in June, 1774, when things were becoming warm in Boston. After the destruction of his elegant town house at the North End, by the Stamp Act mob, this was his principal dwelling. Here he awaited the action of the people in the Old South Meeting-house, assembled on the eve of the “Boston Tea Party;” and here came “Quaker” Rotch, at their command, with his request for a pass for the Dartmouth with her cargo to clear forthwith, upon the refusal of which the “detested tea” was tipped overboard. Whatever may have been his faults as a crown officer, Hutchinson was a good Miltonian and made himself “respected and loved by all his neighbors.”...When he left for England, as it happened, never to return, “he walked from his home along the road, bidding adieu to his neighbors, and shaking hands with them. When near Dorchester Neck (now South Boston), he got into his carriage, which had followed him, and drove to Dorchester Point, where a boat was waiting to take him on board the Minerva.” further “After the Lexington affair, the house was taken possession of by the town, and subsequently confiscated. “Washington, it is said, rides in my coach to Cambridge,” Hutchinson mournfully writes in his diary upon receipt of letters from America. ............” (from “Walks and rides in the country round about Boston” by Edwin M. Bacon, for the Appalachian Mountain Club, Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston and NY, The Riverside Press, Cambridge 1898; p.323)
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One can imagine that members of the Barney Smith family were indeed very proud to be owners of this historical house!
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6 comments:

The Clever Pup said...

This is a great idea and probably lots of fun to do.

Back to school for your daughter soon - last year, right?

einbildungskraft said...

Last year and already started! wow. I think the young pup is a tad younger?
Loved the French chateau houses, wish I could buy you one! :-)
I picked Mrs Smith, I thought her costume was rather rowdy, I'm surprised you didn't comment on her taste Hazel! The hat .....!

Maureen said...

I'll do it, comment on that hat; it's fabulous!

einbildungskraft said...

I have to laugh at that! :-)))
But still. I get this heebyjeeby feeling, doesn't the dress look a bit young for Mrs. Barney Smith? Do I detect the hint of a double chin... ? covered by the collar of the dress? Its like, maybe Gibby tried his best to flatter the lady...but doing the math, she would have been 62~

Maureen said...

62 was absolutely ancient back then, so good for her, tarting herself up and all in white and wearing a fabulous hat.

Rouchswalwe said...

Nifty idea! Gilbert was obviously an honest painter, yet had a heart.

 
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