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Portrait of Littleton Waller Tazewell (1774-1860)

ca. 1815 (possibly)
Origin: America, Virginia, Norfolk
Unframed: 32 3/8" x 26"; Framed: 38 3/16" x 32"
Oil on canvas
Gift of Deborah L. Robertson, Diane L. Liles, David F. Waller and Daniel P. Waller
Acc. No. 2003-79,A&B
A half-length portrait of a man turned 3/4 to the right. He is seated sideways in a fancy side chair, his near (proper right) arm resting on its crest. He wears a black coat, white ruffled shirt, and white tied neckcloth. He has very dark grey eyes and dark curly hair that hangs in an S-shaped curl over his proper right eye. The background is a warm brown.
The 3 1/4-inch frame is a replacement that may date from the late 19th century; it has been routed about 1/4-inch at the top to accommodate the height of the present picture. The gilded cyma recta molding has a wishbone-shaped repeat on the inner edge and decorative floral elements in all four corners; gray-green paint seems to have been used to fill and "antique" the decorative dimensional elements on the frame, and the color has splashed over onto the reverse of the rabbet. The sides of the frame are painted a heavy ochre yellow.
Label:Cephas Thompson is known to have painted Littleton Waller Tazewell, but this portrait is a later copy of Thompson's work by an as yet unidentified hand.

Tazewell grew up in Williamsburg, receiving his early schooling from his maternal grandfather, Judge Benjamin Waller. Between the ages of fifteen and eighteen, he studied with George Wythe. In 1791, he graduated with a B. A. from the College of William and Mary. After completing legal studies with John Wickham in Richmond, he obtained his law license in 1796.

During 1798-1800, Tazewell represented James City County in the House of Delegates, then he was elected to Congress to succeed John Marshall. He moved to Norfolk in 1802 and married Ann Stratton Nivison (1785-1858), daughter of one of the city's leading lawyers. He remained active in legal affairs and politics and was elected to the U. S. Senate in 1824. In 1834 he was elected Governor of Virginia, but the pressures of abolition and his yearning for retirement led him to resign in 1836.

Provenance:The early history is unclear. 2003-79 shares at least a partial history of ownership with 2003-78. Based on discussions with former owner Roy Waller, it is believed that the two portraits of brothers-in-law descended to a grandson of the subject of 2003-79, William Nivison Waller, Sr. (1858-1924); thence, to his son, William Nivison Waller, Jr. (1888-1956); thence, to his wife, Mrs. William Nivison Waller, Jr. (Edith Hyslop)(d. 1986); thence to her nephew, Roy Franklin Waller (b. 1932); thence to his four children, Mrs. Ronald Bracey Robertson (Deborah Lynn Waller)(b. 1954); Mrs. Steven Procter Liles (Diane Leslie Waller)(b. 1958); David Franklin Waller (b. 1962); and Daniel Page Waller (b. 1965), these last four being CWF's donors.

Inscription(s):A printed exhibition label (neg. no. C-03-109) on the back of the top stretcher reads, "Exhibition of/Historical Portraits 1585-1830/At 'Virginia House', Richmond, Virginia/May 1929". Also, in ink, freehand, on the label, is the number, "146".