THE WORLD OF SAMUEL MEEKER, MERCHANT OF PHILADELPHIA, AND GILBERT STUART, AMERICAN PORTRAIT ARTIST
Friday, July 22, 2011
It is well-known that Stuart did not sign his paintings, he felt that a portrait of his WAS the signature! I received a mail, from someone who wanted to know if I thought that the portrait of his ancestor was a Stuart.
"I think I have a Gilbert Stuart portrait of my ancestor David Bradlee. He lived in Boston and was the son of a Boston Tea Party participant. See the attached portrait and let me know what you think."
I wrote back:
"Hi Ted, Thanks for sending me your note! My inclination is to say that it is not a Stuart. However, what also helps in the determination (since Stuart didn't sign his pics) is more factual information, did any other individual in his social, familial, or business circle have their portrait done by the master that you know of? Stuart moved to Boston in 1805...can you place how old your ancestor is (do you know family lines) and does this jive with dates? I am not an expert. But looks to me like the touches that make a Stuart a Stuart are missing, could have been done in 'that prevailing style'... but in general its safer to say that it is not, than it is! Where is the portrait now? I recommend that you beef up the information on your ancestor, be able to determine the ownership through the generations, point out how your ancestor was able to afford the master. My ancestor started a bank, got the first loan of $30,000. and owned a villa, his cousin was also painted by Stuart! Its those kind of clues that can help clinch the deal, on top of the quality of the piece. Then send the photo to one of the experts on Stuart such as Miles, Barratt, and GOOD LUCK !
at 8:54 AM