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

Friday, July 22, 2011

Determining a genuine Gilbert Stuart portrait is not always easy!

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 !

Beth


5 comments:

hammond said...

I am hoping for some help here. I am the 1st cousin 6x removed of Benjamin Hammond who bought the mill that Gilbert Stewart grew up in. I have read that Stewarts father started a snuff mill when he bought it. My family called it the "Hammond Farm" and ran it as a grain mill. It is also know that Gilbert visited the mill/home of his childhood while Benjamin Hammond owned it. What is not know is an old family story that he gifted to Benjamin a portrait for his hospitality. We have this portait but have never been able to verify its authenticity so it has been set aside. I only recently found that many of his works are unsigned. My grandmother used to refer to it as Otis Chaffee. Not sure why he would have given it away.....maybe Otis was a democrat and could not fiqure out to pay for it..Ha Ha.
Anyway, do you have any suggestions to getting this portrait authenticated?

StimmeDesHerzens said...

send me a photo of the work
bethjena@gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I have a painting that I am interested in from ebay was wondering if you can check it out. The person who is selling the painting says it has Gilbert Stuart signature. But I know something is not right because he did not sign any paintings. Anyways can you check this out and get back to me on this blog.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/321163018772

Anonymous said...

I have a painting that I am interested in from ebay was wondering if you can check it out. The person who is selling the painting says it has Gilbert Stuart signature. But I know something is not right because he did not sign any paintings. Anyways can you check this out and get back to me on this blog.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/321163018772

Al Beliko said...

Hello, I wonder if I could send you a picture of the portrait, that I suspect could be a brushwork of Stuart, to get your professional opinion?
Thank you.

 
Site Meter