This miniature is related to a portrait of George Washington commissioned for Harvard University. Washington sat for Savage on 21 December 1789 “at the request of the President and Governors” of the University. The resulting portrait was given to Harvard by August 1791, and became one of the most popular images of Washington during his presidency. It was reproduced in print form by the artist himself in London in 1792, an act that proved very lucrative, and by at least twelve other engravers. This miniature was likely made in England or Ireland after one of those engravings, as it was owned by an Irish family in the early 19th century.
An oval, bust-length portrait in polychrome watercolors of George Washington, three-quarters turned, and gazing to the (proper) left. His powdered hair is worn ‘en queue’ and tied with a black ribbon; curls are visible on both sides. Washington has a florid complexion and the warm tones extend down under the chin. He wears a blue Continental army uniform with buff-colored facings and waistcoat, gold buttons and epaulettes, and cream stock and jabot. The blue coat has loose, broad hatching strokes, one large coat button, and a large Society of the Cincinnati badge in the left lapel. There are 5 waistcoat buttons of which only the bottom 2 are buttoned.
The ground is polychromatic with variegated brushstrokes of grays, blues, and browns, and appears much darker on the left than the right. The hatching in the ground is finer than in the attire.
The miniature is framed in a period (likely original) rectangular birds eye maple frame with a gilded oval mat. The hand shaped glass that once protected the image is contained in a separate bag, as are the backing papers, a piece of card stock and two calling cards. The card stock is inscribed "Genl. Washington" in period script in iron gall ink. The two calling cards are inscribed "Major Macan" and "Mr. A. Nicholl," respectively.
The frame is backed with coated wax stock printed Mrs. Thomas Macan / Miss Oldfields / Miss Macan and inscribed 112 Stephen's Green West; an inked paper reading General Washington / (?) / (M)iniature (?) / General Murray (at?) / Tunbridge Wells; and a printed page of text originally from the Edinburgh Review, No. 135, entitled “On the Times of George the Third and George the Fourth,” by Lieutenant General Herbert Taylor. (The article was first published in 1838, and reprinted several times between 1838 and 1839.)
It was purchased by Ernest Oscar Hubert, (1889-1956), a Swiss-born, Mount View, New Jersey-based appraiser and antiques dealer, of the Equitable Appraisal Company, New York.
Watercolor, ivory, wood, glass, paper
Other (Framed): 4 9/16 in. × 4 1/2 in. × 1 1/2 in. (11.59 cm × 11.43 cm × 3.81 cm)
Other (Image): 2 in. × 1 1/2 in. (5.08 cm × 3.81 cm)
Purchased with funds provided by the William S. and Lora Jean Kilroy Foundation, 2012
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