Monday, October 10, 2011

they seem authentic...Mr and Mrs Schermerhorn, for a (very) reasonable price!

Mr. and Mrs. Schermerhorn attributed to Gilbert Stuart c. 1825

Cowan's October 8 Fall Fine and Decorative Art Auction (Cincinnati) offered two Stuart portraits, Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Schermerhorn. Now how is this..the estimate was only $1,000 - $2,000 and starting bid for $500.!
The Price Realized: $10,575.00. (Something is odd about the pricing here, Chinese artifacts are definitely the hot items in the auction circuit!)

The description was given:
Attributed to Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755-1828), ca 1825, includes two unsigned portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Schermerhorn, both housed in decorative gilt and gesso frame; 32.5 x 25.5 in.

A New York sea captain, Mr. Schermerhorn became a successful merchant in the newly independent United States. Born in 1756 in the colonies, he died in 1826, shortly after this portrait was probably painted. Cornelius is shown in a three-quarter pose, seated in a mahogany Grecian chair against a swag of red drapery with blue gray sky in the background. The companion portrait of Mrs. Schermerhorn depicts her seated in a heavier gilt Grecian chair with red upholstery.

There was no other information offered on the portraits. If the portraits were done in 1825, then Mr. Schermerhorn would be 70 years old. Neither he nor his wife look to be much past 60, I am sceptical of the date given to the portraits (c. 1825). The pair are not in the Lawrence Park volumes, nor in (George) Mason. Gilbert Stuart, if in fact he completed these portraits in 1825, passed away 3 years later (1828)--and he certainly spent much time on some of the accents in these portraits, such as the shawl with the rose border. Unusual, since Gibby did not like to focus on much of anything except for the face. The hands are very well done as well. hmmmm.

I did some sleuthing on Mr. Schermerhorn and found this (courtesy Schermerhorn Genealogy and Family Chronicles):

Cornelius I. Schermerhorn lived at Schodack Landing, N. Y. He was a merchant and large land and vessel owner, several of his vessels being engaged in trade with the East Indies. In 1793 he was a Lieutenant in his father's regiment. In 1798 he was Captain of Light Infantry in Brig. Gen. Henry K. Van Rensselaer's Rensselaer Co. Brigade. 1798-1800 he was Adjutant in Col. Nicholas Staat's Rensselaer Co. Regiment. March 30, 1803, he was commissioned as Major and on March 12, 1810, as Lieutenant Colonel, and April 3, 1812, as Colonel of the 43rd Regiment, 8th Brigade, Third Division of the New York Militia under command of Brigadier-General Jacob A. Fort and Major General Henry Livingston. Colonel Schermerhorn served on the frontier with his regiment during the war of 1812.
Cornelius I. Schermerhorn held the office of assessor in Schodack in 1795, and from 1800 to 1809 was supervisor of the village. In 1808, 1809, 1810, 1811 and 1818 he was a member of the New York State Assembly, and during that service he way prominently identified with the plans for the inauguration of the Erie Canal.

A characterization from the pen of a grandson, reads as follows:
"My grandfather, Col. Cornelius I. Schermerhorn lived in the house which still stands (1905) a little north of the village of Schodack Landing and quite near the bank of the river. It is said that this house was built about 1760 with bricks brought from Holland. It is an excellent type of the better class of houses of the Dutch settlers. My grandfather in many respects resembled his father, though less domineering in character. He was silent and reserved and like his father a leader among the men with whom he was associated. Through his business ability he added materially to the property left him by his father, and at the time of his death in 1828, he owned nearly all the farms in the vicinity of the village. He had in addition large vessel interests, part of which was engaged in trade with China and the East.
His wife Elizabeth Monden, was an exceedingly bright, vivacious woman, with a highly developed religious nature. She was a descendent of Heer Johannes La Montagne, vice-director of the West Indies Co., at Fort Orange, Albany, from 1659 to 1664. The family was of Huguenot origin, emigrating from Holland about the middle of the 17th century. The name became changed to Monden, Monton, Munden."

With regard to authenticity Cowan's Auctions provides these words: Cowan's Auctions makes limited warranty concerning the authenticity of any lot for a period of 21 days following the sale. If a buyer is not satisfied that the item purchased is genuine, they may, at their expense, obtain the opinion of two mutually agreed upon recognized experts in the field of the disputed item. If these experts determine the item is not genuine, the buyer's sole remedy under the auctioneer's warranty shall be the rescission of the sale and refund of the original price paid for the item.

Also: Cowan's Auctions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for correct descriptions or defects in any lot, and makes no warranty in connection therewith.


Rouchswalwe said...

I love the way you 'sleuth' ...

Anonymous said...

Regarding to the Mr. and Mrs Schermerhorn paintings. Name: Elizabeth Mondain died in 1815.

Birth: 1764 New York
Death: 1815 New York

So I believe the date Circa 1825 would be incorrect, and Corneilus died in Aug 1828.

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