Thursday, March 15, 2012

the War of 1812 (two hundred years ago this year) & a Meeker perishes

Two hundred years ago, America declared war on Britain. The reasons were many...the wartime atmosphere in Europe (Napoleon was wreaking his havoc) led to British seizure of American ships, more often than not forcing American sailors into the British navy, and the severe restrictions imposed by the British on American trade with France... In June 1812 James Madison became the first U.S. president to ask Congress to declare war.
Samuel Meeker at this time was 49. For many years before the outbreak of the war, Samuel Meeker was engaged in the trade/wholesale/retail business; his second firm was located at #20 South Front Street in Philadelphia and was called Meeker Denman & Co. comprising Samuel himself, his first cousin William Meeker, and brother-in-law Samuel Denman.
click on image below for a larger view
~The authenticity of Samuel Meeker as a work by Gilbert Stuart was further confirmed when I learned that his cousin William’s portrait was listed in the Lawrence Park volumes.~

William Meeker by Gilbert Stuart

[most likely c. 1803 as arrangement, hair, clothing are very similar to Samuel Meeker and the firm had received a large loan at this time ]The following information comes from an auction house, 2009;

PROVENANCE: From a fine Sudbury, MA home. CONDITION: Very good, restored, relined with inpainting. [In my opinion, the restorative touch-up work botched Stuart's portrait in a very major way. The portrait did not sell at auction.]

From Lawrence Park; William Meeker
“The present owner of this portrait was told at the time of its purchase that William Meeker was a member of the London firm of Meeker & Denman, shipping agents, and that he died en route to New Orleans in 1812. [slightly inaccurate, the firm was out of Philadelphia]
Canvas 28 x 23 inches.Bust, half-way to the right, with his light brown eyes directed to the spectator. His brown hair is brushed back, with curls in the neck, and tied with a black queue bow. He wears a dark blue, or blue-black, coat with small brass buttons; a very high white neckcloth and a ruffled shirt, with a bit of a white waistcoat showing. His complexion is ruddy and he wears small side-whiskers. The background is plain, of greenish-olive tones, becoming warm brown in the lower right corner.

New Orleans had been aquired with the Louisiana Purchase 9 years before, was an important and principal port since the American Revolution for importing and exporting—imported goods were warehoused and then distributed up the vast Mississippi river. William was the agent in England for the firm, selling goods sent from Philadelphia and purchasing items to be shipped back. As he died at sea en route to New Orleans in 1812, one might surmise that perhaps he was returning home with one of his shipments, and perished in a skirmish at sea. The region was targeted by the British and was attacked in a final battle in 1815, although a peace treaty was already in place. William Meeker never married.

No comments:

Site Meter