Boston Painters and Paintings



NOTHING that books can tell us throws half so much light upon the artists who are dead and gone as their own works; and if we wish to know what manner of men were the Boston painters of the past, we have but to look at the pictures they have left behind them. The history of art is written in chromatic characters on pages of canvas, and consists of a series of autobiographies or confessions, in which, by the nature of the case, there can be no reservations. In spite of a prevalent lack of faith in our art, some admirable painters have lived and flourished here : men of force, of feeling, and of deep perceptions, whose achievements from the earliest times down to the present day I have studied with ever-growing interest, respect, and admiration.

The art of painting is of greater antiquity in Boston than has been commonly supposed. It has been assumed until a recent date that Peter Pelham and John Smybert were the earliest New England artists, but, thanks to the investigations made by members of the Massachusetts Historical Society, it is now held to be clearly proved that there were “ limners ” in Boston more than a century before the Revolution. The few forbidding specimens of the art of these pioneer portrait-painters remaining on the walls of college halls, in the rooms of antiquarian associations, and in private houses, where they are treasured for their age, and now and then because of family pride and loyalty to “grandmother’s mother,” rather than for their beauty, show that we need not regret too keenly our meagre knowledge concerning our own old masters. Indeed, what Dr. Holmes says of the portrait of Dorothy Q. applies to the entire category of anonymous paintings belonging to the colonial period : —

“ Who the painter was none may tell, —
One whose best was not over-well;
Hard and dry. it must be confessed,
Flat as a rose that has long been pressed.”

The quaint portrait of one Dr. John Clark, which belongs to the Massachusetts Historical Society, and which represents that remote personage contemplating a skull, is believed to have been painted in Boston prior to 1680. The same age is attributed to a portrait of Increase Mather; and the portraits of “the Gibbs children” are dated 1670. (Vide Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings, September, 1867, page 47.) Nobody knows who painted the paltry portrait of John Winthrop (1587— 1649), belonging to Harvard College ; but granting that it was drawn from life, in Boston, it is the oldest work of native art in this part of the world. There is record of an artist named Joseph Allen, who sailed from England for Boston in 1684 ; and that still other painters made Boston their home long before Pelham and Smybert came to this country is shown by the following extract from Judge Sewall’s Diary, volume ii. page 170 : —

“November 10, 1706. This morning, Tom Child, the painter, died.

“ Tom Child had often painted Death,
But never to the Life before :
Doing it now, he ’s out of Breath,
He paints it once, and paints no more.”

This lugubrious epigram is the only existing memorial of an artist whose abbreviated name suggests that he may have been a well-known character in the snug little town at that time, and that he may have been also something of a Bohemian. It is at least interesting to know that a city which has given birth to and adopted so many eminent painters may trace the beginnings of her art almost as far back as the middle of the seventeenth century.

Pelham and Smybert did not come over from the old country until Tom Child had been under the sod near twenty years. The former was a portrait-painter, a mezzotint - engraver, a mathematician, and a land surveyor all in one, but his chief title to fame probably consisted in his relationship of stepfather to a certain young man named Copley, whose earliest efforts in the study of painting were guided by this versatile exponent of the arts and sciences. Pelham painted a portrait of the eminent divine, Cotton Mather, whose identification with the witchcraft prosecutions is a melancholy page in our early history ; and he was the author of a likeness of the Rev. Mather Byles, justly celebrated as the first New England clergyman who ever made a joke, and who was cleverly introduced by Hawthorne as one of the characters in his sketch of Howe’s Masquerade. Pelham’s list of sitters comprised Dr. Timothy Cutler, the president of Yale College, and two or three other well-known preachers ; he made engravings of them as well as paintings. Smybert, who came from Scotland, in the hopeful company of good Dean Berkeley, three years later than Pelham, by way of doing his part in the planting of the arts in America, free from the “ pedantry of courts and schools,” painted in a dry and severely formal style the portraits of many of the foremost New Englanders of his time, — solemn judges and clergymen, in wigs and black robes, frosty and austere. There are said to be over thirty Smyberts in and about Boston, but not more than half of them are well authenticated. The portrait of Judge Edmund Quincy in the Museum of Fine Arts and that of John Lovell in the Harvard Memorial Hall may be mentioned as characteristic examples. Considered as art works, their value is small. They are primitive, stiff, and hard, but they are undoubtedly good literal likenesses, as portraits go. In these respects, Smybert’s portraits are similar to almost all the pre-Copleyite portraits which are to be seen in the Harvard Memorial Hall, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the hall of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Smybert’s studio, on Court Street, between Corn hill and Brattle Street, was the first “ painting-room ” of which there is any record in Boston. It was occupied afterwards by Trumbull, and in later years still by Allston.

Jonathan B. Blackburn, who arrived in Boston in 1750, was an abler painter than Smybert, if we may judge by his portrait of Colonel Jonathan Warner, of Portsmouth, N. H., which hangs in the Museum of Fine Arts. Blackburn went away in 1765, leaving upwards of fifty portraits behind him. In the chapter on the fine arts, in the Memorial History of Boston, Mr. Arthur Dexter (on page 384) says that Blackburn’s style “ was much like Smybert’s, generally rather harder and dryer.” This remark is not borne out by the portrait of Colonel Warner, which resembles a Copley rather than a Smybert, and is much more delicate in color, besides being better modeled and having a far more distinguished air than any example of Smybert that we have seen. It is very quiet in tone, and thinly painted, in neutral colors. The pose is proud and assured, the costume handsome, the expression almost supercilious. There are Copleys alongside of it. and they look as if they might have been painted by the same hand. Blackburn’s portrait of John Lowell, in the Harvard Memorial Hall, is a less creditable specimen of his work. Little is known about this painter, but it is quite possible that young Copley may have got some useful hints from him.

Before Copley, however, there were so few artists worthy of the name that his development appears quite phenomenal. With him the actual record of Boston art may be said to begin. He was but a boy of fourteen when Smybert died in 1751, and it is probable that the youth was influenced to some extent by the examples of the old Scotchman’s work which must have abounded at that day, as well as by the more direct instructions of Pelham ; but more than all that could be derived from both of these worthy limners is needed to account for the young man’s remarkable talent, already so mature and so prolific before his departure from this country. It is known that he never saw any pictures better than those of Smybert, Pelham, and Blackburn until he went to Italy, and this fact is enough to make him a prodigy. No previous nor subsequent period in all the story of Boston art could possess a livelier interest for the historian and critic than that extending from the opening of this young man’s professional career up to the day that he left these shores, never to return. Here, in the old house facing the Common, surrounded by a princely estate of about eleven acres, — which he sold for so much less than its actual worth, after he quitted America, that it is said he never quite recovered from the chagrin caused by his want of shrewdness in making the bargain, — he painted about three hundred portraits, most of which are in or near Boston to-day. People soon came to him from all parts of New England to have their portraits painted. In those days gentlemen dressed in colors ; there were few black frock-coats except on the bench and in the pulpit. The artist appreciated his good fortune in being permitted to surround the faces and forms of his sitters with rich draperies and accessories which should make them decorative and splendid pictures, apart from their personal value as likenesses. He was a calm, deliberate, and methodical workman, who never hurried, and never neglected any part of his task. He required many sittings ; and to illustrate how slow he was in painting a portrait, an anecdote was current, which alleged that he undertook to paint a family group, but that before the work was finished the wife died and the husband married again. The first wife was therefore represented as an angel, and her terrestrial place was given to the second wife ; but the latter died also before the painting was completed, and had to be placed aloft, while her successor occupied the earthly centre of the family group. This story was merely an exaggeration of the actual circumstances. But if Copley was slow he was industrious, for three hundred portraits painted between 1754 (presuming him to have begun to work seriously at the age of seventeen) and 1774, the date of his departure from Boston, would give us an average of fifteen a year, or one and a fraction for each month; which, to be sure, cannot be compared with the rate of production maintained by certain more modern portrait - painters, whose rapidity has been made a subject of boasting, but which, for such a conscientious artist as Copley, is a considerable œuvre. His prices were extremely low in comparison with those of the successful portraitists of later times, as may be inferred from the fact that he charged only eight guineas for the famous portrait of John Hancock. It is a matter for regret that so little is known about Copley’s early life here. We are able to reconstruct him, after a palæontological fashion, from the scattered anecdotal bones preserved by the historians and biographers, who in general have failed to estimate him at his true Worth as an artist; but it is the better way to go straight to his best works, and to study him through them.

That old Boston family is unfortunate which does not possess at least one portrait of a great-grandmother or greatgrandfather, signed by Copley and distinguished by a somewhat angular elegance. As it is an enviable fortune to have a Copley in the house, so it was a happy thought to name the finest square in the city for him, since the Museum of Fine Arts, which faces it, always contains a representative group of his portraits.

The portraits of John Hancock and Samuel Adams, taken from Faneuil Hall, are permanent loans from the city. Hancock’s slight figure is seen at almost full length, seated, and clothed in a welllooking costume of dark blue trimmed with gold cord, a gray wig, and gray hose. Holding an idle pen in his right hand, he rests the other on a large account-book which lies on the table before him. He is an exceedingly neat and punctilious person, and his air is somewhat self-conscious. As for Samuel Adams, he has been caught in the act of making a speech, and, with his dogmatic mouth, penetrating and assured glance, and convincing gesture (as he points at a roll of parchment on the desk), he is the embodiment of determination, energy, and grit. Adams’s dark brick-red coat is far from unbecoming. The visitor to the Museum may find also, usually, numerous lent portraits by Copley, the property of individuals and families. His best portraits, however, are those of the Boylston family, hi Harvard Memorial Hall, Cambridge, and it is there that Copley must be seen to be appreciated as a portraitist. There are four of the Boylston portraits, namely, those of Thomas Boylston and his wife and two of Nicholas Boylston. It is sufficient to compare these works with any portraits painted before Copley’s time to demonstrate his vast superiority over all his predecessors, and it is not too much to say that there are very few later American portraits which surpass them.

Copley’s fame may rest secure upon the portrait of Mrs. Thomas Boylston, which recalls to mind the work of the great masters by its simplicity, repose, penetrating truth, and refinement. It is executed with the easy skill of a masterworkman, and has no weak spots. The figure is of three-quarters length. Mrs. Boylston is seated in a handsome armchair, which is covered with faded yellow brocade fastened by brass-headed nails. Her gown is of a light olive-brown silk, and she wears a white cap, a broad white muslin collar, or cape, covered by black lace, wide white ruffled wristbands, and black silk mitts. There is a curtain in the background. The face, which is of a very intelligent and interesting cast, is described with perfect taste and, it may be presumed, perfect accuracy ; and the lady’s hands, which lie crossed upon her lap, are characterized with equal force. In its pretty old-fashioned frame, this portrait, so quiet, so well bred, so complete, utterly refutes the superficial judgment that Copley could paint nothing so well as his sitters’ clothes. The Boylstons were evidently compact, wiry little people, keen, hard-headed, bold, with a sense of humor and an eye to business, — typical Yankees, well worth painting ; and we have in this series of effigies a complete exposition of their character, which no mere painter of draperies could have given. Nicholas Boylston, at full length, is not likely to be forgotten by any student who has sat at his slippered, feet three times daily during a college year. The bullet head is superbly modeled and brimful of vitality. Seated by a table, with his left arm resting on some large books, and one slim leg crossed over the other, the man eyes you, an actual presence, with a half-mocking smile playing about his thin lips. His costume consists of an ample blue - figured brocade morningrobe over an “ old gold ” waistcoat, a red silk cap set jauntily on his bald head, and a pair of huge red slippers on his feet. The artist has been able to tell us on this canvas that Nicholas Boylston was an active, shrewd, nervous man, and something of a quiz : the character of a sitter was never more intimately revealed. The second portrait of Nicholas Boylston is a variation of the first: it is only three-quarters length, so that the lean ankles and immense red slippers are not in it. The robe here is green instead of blue, but has the same pattern, and is probably painted from the same garment. More agreeable than the other likeness, this is somewhat less piquant. There are ships in the distance, seen through an open window ; these are the glorious symbols of the old Boston merchant’s calling. Thomas Boylston bears a strong family resemblance to his brother, being, like him, small, bald, clean-shaven, and very wide awake. He too wears a cap, which is of pink silk. His long waistcoat is of white satin with gold trimmings, over which is a dark brown coat, thrown well open. He holds a pen in his hand, and there are writing materials on a table. His pose is easy and picturesque, like that of a successful man of affairs who has just stopped writing in order to turn and speak to a friend who has come in. His expression is as good-natured as Nicholas Boylston’s, perhaps less sardonic. The flesh is firm without being too hard, and the draperies are crisply and brilliantly treated. Each of these portraits has a distinct personal sentiment, which, though unlike that of any other painter’s work, gives it a kinship with many of the masterpieces of European museums, and constitutes its final charm. The Nicholas Boylston is a gorgeous piece of decoration, which makes the black frock-coat portraits of to-day seem doubly stupid and colorless.

From Copley as a portrait-painter to Copley as an historical painter involves a journey from the Harvard Memorial Hall to the Boston Public Library, where, in the unfavorable light of the so-called Fine Arts room, hangs his King Charles I. Demanding in the House of Commons the Five Impeached Members, a fine example of his elegant and accomplished later style, executed in England, and brought to Boston in 1859, when it was given to the Public Library by the Hon. Josiah Quincy and eleven other citizens. It was first exhibited in a dealer’s gallery, and a pamphlet printed at the time described the composition in the artist’s own language. It may be remembered that Charles I. had demanded in vain the persons of the five Commoners whom he had accused of high treason, — Pym, Hampden, Hollis, Haslerig, and Strode, — and on January 2, 1641, he went to the House in quest of them. Mounting to the Speaker’s chair, he asked if the accused members were present. The Speaker politely refused to answer: and this is the situation of affairs Copley chose for his picture, wherein the king has just finished speaking, and the kneeling Speaker replies with an air of meekness and words of defiance. There are about sixty figures in the composition. All the heads are portraits, derived from paintings by Vandyck. Lely, and other contemporaneous artists, or from busts. The size of the canvas is ninety by one hundred and twenty-one inches. The king, whose likeness was obtained from a portrait by Vandyck and a bust by Bernini, stands in the left of the composition, on the steps of the Speaker’s dais. His rich costume includes a fine blue velvet cloak with lace collar, worn over a white satin doublet, with scarlet silk breeches, blue hose, and a black hat with a white plume. Add to this array of brilliant colors and fine fabrics the sword, the coquettish red rosettes worn on the shoes, a decoration and a blue ribbon upon the royal breast, and we have a figure which any painter might well delight to represent, although the weak, good-natured face and the long, flowing brown hair combined to produce an appearance of effeminacy which ill comports with the haughty attitude of the unfortunate king, who holds his right hand on his hip, while with the left he points to the Speaker kneeling before him. William Lenthall, thus bending the knee in simulation of that reverence no longer felt for the representative of “ divine right,” is attired all in black with yellow ornaments, and holds his hat, in one hand, while with the other he makes an appealing gesture. The members are grouped all about the hall in various attitudes, expressive of astonishment or approval, indignation or resolution. There is enough animation without violence of action. The artist has not made the king the most prominent figure. The most interesting group is at the right, nearer the foreground, and consists of six Royalist members. One of them, Sir Bevil Greenville, of Cornwall, who, as we are told by the pamphlet alluded to, led the Cornish Royalists afterwards at the battle of Stratton, and was killed in the fight at Lansdowne while leading a charge against the Roundheads, is a particularly fine fellow, and wears a yellow costume, with a cloak of gray velvet trimmed with gold and elegantly disposed. His attitude is full of grace and dignity, and altogether he is a good representative of the old nobility. The animated young man in the scarlet breeches who steps forward so earnestly is Philip Lord Herbert, son of the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery. His figure is drawn rather clumsily, an unusual fault in Copley. The noble gentleman just in front of him, in a becoming suit of black, with one hand resting upon the table, is Edward Hyde, afterwards Lord Clarendon, an eminent and able supporter of the royal cause. The remaining three men in the group are Sir Philip Warwick, Geoffrey Palmer, and Sir Edward Nicholas. Behind them all is Lord Viscount Falkland, who was killed at the battle of Newbury. The man engaged in writing, at the extreme right, is the clerk of the House and historian, Rushworth. The group at the left of the picture, near the Speaker’s chair, is also composed of distinguished Royalists, — the gallant Prince Rupert, who stands with one foot on the step of the dais, and behind him Endimion Porter, Sir Ralph Hopton (a Vandyck head), Giles Strangwayes, and at the extreme left Sir Edmund Verney (from a Vandyck, a fine head), the king’s standard-bearer, who lost his life at Edgehill. Sir W illiam Waller, commander of the parliamentary forces, leans forward from behind the Speaker’s chair, and a little farther back may be seen John Selden, the representative of Oxford University. On the king’s left hand the seats are occupied by members of both parties. Very near the kneeling Speaker is the younger Harry Vane. Just at the end of the table sits Cromwell, as yet unknown to fame, and beyond him are Whitlocke, the historian, and Sir Henry Slingsby. On the same side of the House is a smaller group of six, — Edmund Waller the poet, Sydney Godolphin, the elder Harry Vane, John Hotham, Sir Dudley North, Sir William Widdington. The room is a Gothic hall, decorated in red and gold. The picture impresses by its complete elegance. The conception is picturesque, decorative, scenic, but without great insight; it adds no new light to the history of the period, and the reading of character is not remarkable. Charles I. interested the artist but little, Cromwell still less; and there is some want of historical proportion in the design. The workmanship, however, is in general that of a painter of no mean ability. A pleasant glow of warm color pervades the canvas. It is the work of an accomplished artist, and it would be surprising that it should not have been kept in England as a part of the group of historical scenes by Copley in the National Gallery, did we not know that there, as elsewhere, such matters are regulated by the fashion of the hour.

Copley was essentially a portrait-painter, as we have seen, and his best days were those in which he painted the Boylston family. He had not much imagination, and could not make history live again in his canvases. The work we have just reviewed is not much more than a collection of portraits. He was a superior workman, and painted a, head as lovingly as Gerard Dow painted a broom-handle, with the same pride and satisfaction in his own dexterity and competency. The peculiar merits of his portraits are their external accuracy and their distinction of style, — qualities strongly marked in his best paintings. His portraits may be stiff sometimes, but they are never commonplace. Their occasional hardness is seldom an offensive fault, for we feel that this precise manner mirrors forth fitly the somewhat artificial elegance of the time. Besides, of the two extremes in painting, hardness is always to be preferred to softness. It is only the very greatest masters who find the golden mean. Copley, by his direct and vivid naturalism, impresses us with the truth of his likenesses, and makes the men and women of the colonial period live before our eyes. His paintings give a better idea of Boston before the Revolution than can be gained from all the books in the Public Library.

Between 1774, when Copley went away, and 1806, when Stuart appeared upon the scene, there was a long period of almost entire vacuity in the history of Boston art. There was no time to produce pictures when it was a question of founding and preserving a nation. Colonel John Trumbull’s is the only name of note which appears in this interval. The Revolutionary struggle was still in progress when he retired from the army, and resumed the practice of his art in the room which had been built for Smybert. Here he painted portraits of John Hancock and of other local heroes of the Revolution. His picture of the Declaration of Independence, now in the rotunda of the national Capitol, which John Randolph called “ the shin piece,” and which was engraved by Durand, was first exhibited in Faneuil Hall, in 1818, and the venerable John Adams was prevailed upon to visit it. “ He approved the picture,” says Miss Quincy in her Memoir, “ and, pointing to the door next the chair of Hancock, said,

' There! that is the door out of which Washington rushed when I first alluded to him as the man best qualified for commander-in-chief of the American army.’ ” Although Trumbull did not remain long in Boston, and his most important works are in Washington and New Haven, he is well represented in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts by one of his best known historical paintings, The Sortie from Gibraltar; by one of his classic compositions, Priam and the Dead Body of Hector ; and by two of his portraits. The latter, the portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Minot, are respectable performances, but not great. The Sortie from Gibraltar is a large and lurid canvas, with an abundance of scarlet in it; the group of wellfed British officers in their red coats, at the right, forming the most conspicuous feature of the composition. The suggestion of carnage, excitement, action, and danger at the left is strong, but one gets only a confused idea of what is going on there. A much better painting in every respect is Priam and the Dead Body of Hector, which is smaller, and on about the same scale as the Battle of Bunker’s Hill in the Yale art gallery. It was painted in West’s studio in London, and was one of Trumbull’s earliest compositions. In the porch of Priam’s stately palace a group of mourning women, which includes Andromache and Helen, surrounds Hecuba, who, robed in red, raises her arms in an ecstasy of grief, as she advances to view with overflowing eyes the body of the slain Trojan hero, which is borne tenderly up the steps by a soldier and an old servant, — the latter a very touching figure of melancholy and solicitude. The venerable king comes up the steps just beyond the funeral group, and earnestly addresses his frantic queen. At the left a group of soldiers and civilians witness the sad meeting, and “ Troy sends forth one universal groan.” The corpse of Hector is swathed in white, and the head drops towards the left shoulder. The fatal wound inflicted by Achilles is visible “ ’twixt the neck and throat.” The surroundings are lost in deep shadows, as if night were falling. Trumbull touched a chord here which was vastly deeper and more genuine than any that he struck in his huge historical canvases, and reached a higher level of expression.

In the great portrait gallery of Harvard College there are several of his most valued portraits, comprising his Washington, his John Adams, and his Christopher Gore, the last named being a replica of the portrait in New Haven. The Washington lacks substance, and does justice neither to sitter nor artist; the Christopher Gore is an indifferent performance ; and the Adams, the best of the three canvases, is mainly interesting because it reveals to posterity a florid and handsome young man in a becoming coat, and gives us an original notion of the first and greatest of that remarkable line of statesmen. Trumbull was an earnest student of art, and made himself familiar with what had been done by the masters. It is related of him that, being in Paris during the troubled period when the guillotine was kept busy lopping off aristocrats’ heads, he became suspected by the Directory, and was arrested; whereupon the painter David saved his life and obtained his release by showing a, print of his Battle of Bunker’s Hill to the judges, and asking if the man who painted that picture were not a good enough republican. He had been less fortunate in England, where he suffered an imprisonment of eight months soon after the execution of André His eyesight must have been uncommonly good, for the catalogue of the Yale gallery, referring to the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, says, “ On the day on which this battle was fought, the artist was adjutant of the first regiment of Connecticut troops, stationed at Roxbury, and saw the action from that point.”

There is no name among those of the early artists of Boston that is held in greater esteem than Gilbert Stuart’s. A native of Rhode Island, which has given birth to several eminent artists, when he came to Boston to live, in 1806, he was already fifty years old, and had been a citizen in turn of London, Dublin, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. He spent the last twenty-two years of his life in Boston, without further wandering, and, dying in 1828, was buried in the little cemetery on the Common. All trace of his grave has been lost, and all that is known is that his bones lie somewhere in that ground. There are scores of his beautiful portraits in the homes of the people who daily pass the picturesque little burialground in the heart of the busy city, but who thinks of honoring the memory of Stuart ? Go to the Museum, and you shall see the famous “ Athenæum portraits ” of Washington and his wife, the Washington at Dorchester Heights, and a group of portraits which are of a charming simplicity and freshness, among which I need mention only that of the bold, good-natured, and rubicund General Henry Knox and that of the Honorable Josiah Quincy. It may be said that Stuart has no need of a monument; and in one sense that is true, but Boston certainly needs to show that it appreciates his worth and the renown he reflected upon the town.

Frank and hearty, like himself, his portraits are full of robust character. For the purity of their color and the freshness and transparency of their flesh tints, his heads will be always remarkable. He never spoiled them by overelaboration, for he knew when to leave them. “ Let nature tell in every part of your painting ” was one of his counsels to young artists ; " be ever jealous about truth in painting.” He forbade his pupils to blend their colors, and the admirable condition of his own works to-day proves that he practiced what he preached in this regard. He was in some respects more modern than his time, and undoubtedly partook of the tendencies and aims which distinguish the intelligent realists of the present period. He had the happy faculty of suggesting much by a slight touch, and did only what he could do well. He cared more for nature than for art, was a keen reader of character, and understood how to charm and draw out his sitters in conversation. He did not pay much attention to what had gone before him in art, but he had the great advantage of living in England during the golden age of painting in that country, and of associating with such men as Sir Joshua Reynolds, Gainsborough, Sir Thomas Lawrence, West, Sir Henry Raeburn, and the others who were the glory of British art. There is, therefore, nothing so phenomenal about Stuart’s success as there is about Copley’s. His paintings look easy when compared with others, and they were, in fact, executed rapidly. His small unfinished sketch of himself, in the Museum of Fine Arts, appears to have been the work of twenty minutes, and has no resemblance to the engraved portraits ; at all events, its vagueness gives a good deal of scope for the imagination.

In the celebrated Washington at Dorchester Heights, the only large painting by Stuart that I know of, the figure of the Father of his Country is well planted on its feet, and full of dignity and reserve power, but the accessories — mainly consisting of smoke and a wild white horse — are flagrant examples of what would be called chic work nowadays. Regnault’s horses, in the same gallery, though not scientifically drawn, are very equine, but Stuart’s steed is far from probable. Washington’s uniform — a dark blue coat, ornamented by brass buttons, light facings, and epaulettes ; buff waistcoat and breeches ; black stockings ; a white “ choker ” about the neck ; and the three-cornered black hat held in one hand — is a rich, sober, paintable costume. Stuart has made good use of the uniform of the Revolutionary time in the portrait of General Knox also, which is a sterling example of his most vigorous, truthful, and simple style. Knox rests one hand on a cannon, and the other is held against his side in a strikingly plausible position. His highly colored countenance, framed by a thick and bristling crop of short gray hair, is delightful for its amiability, ease, and underlying decision. The man is completely in your presence. The painter felt sure of himself when he did this, and it was done joyously, with the unconscious power of a great workman. A quaint and memorable work is the portrait of Mrs. Betsey Hartigan, with its attractive combination of fresh and rosy flesh and silvery - gray silk draperies. (Stuart’s female sitters had the most marvelous pink and white complexions in the world.) The movement of Mrs. Hartigan’s hands in sewing is one of the most masterly strokes of his art. So, also, the slow and rather supercilious upraising of the dame’s eyes from her work is described with rare felicity. The unfinished heads of two sisters, the daughters of Dr. Jackson, of Philadelphia, are on one panel, and present an epitome of youthful grace, high spirits, and oldfashioned loveliness, as delicate and beautiful as a nosegay of wild-flowers. Stuart was not above liking to paint pretty things, and these sisters were certainly extremely pretty. We have his biographer’s word for it that he painted the portraits of these ladies more than once, but always felt that he had not done them justice.

The number of heads by Stuart, in and near Boston, is very considerable. Soon after his death, in 1828, an exhibition of his works was held in Pearl Street, near the old Athenaeum, which comprised no less than two hundred and fourteen portraits. Mason’s Life and Works of Gilbert Stuart contains a list of his paintings, with many entertaining anecdotes about the bluff and irascible old painter. “ He lived and had his painting-room,” says Drake, in his Old Landmarks of Boston, “ in Washington Place, Fort Hill, and later on Essex Street, near Edinboro Street,” but during the War of 1812 he was living in Roxbury.

William Howe Downes.