Portrait of George Braxton III (1734-1761)
Origin: America, Virginia
Unframed: 35 7/8" x 28 7/8" and Framed: 42" x 35 1/4" x 1 1/2"
Acc. No. 1956-26,A&B
A nearly three-quarter-length portrait of a man, shown standing and turned slightly towards the viewer's left, his eyes to the viewer. His far (proper right) hand is thrust beneath his waistcoat; he rests his near forearm on the edge of a marble-topped pier table, which is partly visible at far right in the composition. His near hand dangles front and center. A cocked hat is held between his body and near arm. He wears a dark blue, stand-collar coat with gold braid trim and buttons. He also wears a white (est. satin) waistcoat, a white shirt with lace ruffles at neck and cuffs, and a white neck cloth. His dark brown hair is curled over his ears and tied at the back of his neck with a ribbon. He has dark brown eyes. The background is a warm brown.
The 3 1/2-inch frame is a black-stained bolection molding having a flat, sanded, gilded liner terminating at the sight edge in stylized acanthus-leaf carving. The frame is possibly original [examination, C. Swan/B. Luck, 11/21/2011]. Also see n. 1 ("Notes").
George Braxton III was the son of George Braxton II and Mary Carter Braxton of King and Queen County, Virginia. She was the daughter of Robert “King” Carter, one of the colony’s wealthiest and most influential men.
George Braxton III inherited Newington plantation from his father, along with two others. He was a member of the House of Burgesses and served as a colonel in the militia. He married Mary Blair in 1753, about the time that Wollaston painted their portraits.
Mary came from a prominent family living in Williamsburg. Her parents were Mary Munro Blair and John Blair Sr., a member of the House Burgesses and the colony’s deputy auditor for many years. John Blair Sr. was the nephew of Commissary James Blair.
The Braxton portraits are typical of Wollaston’s three-quarter length Virginia portraits in that they show the same poses, hand positions, and costuming that the artist often used in other Virginia and Maryland likenesses.
Provenance:In a letter to CWF of 24 January 1956, CWF's source, Ellen A. Wyeth, stated that "except for my grandfather, these portraits [i.e., 1956-26 and 1956-27] have been handed down through the distaff side of the family (including three Mary Blairs) . . . . "
Per the preceding, CWF's companion portraits of George and Mary Braxton are thought to have descended from the subjects to their daughter, Elizabeth Braxton Whiting (Mrs. Henry Whiting)(1759-1818); to her daughter, Mary Blair Whiting Little (Mrs. Robert Howe Little)(1781-1857) of Millwood, Clarke Co., Va.; to her daughter, Mary Blair Little Horner (Mrs. Richard Brent Horner)(?-?); to her son, Robert Little Horner (?-?) of Warrenton, Va.; to his daughter, Ellen Horner Wyeth (Mrs. Parker Campbell Wyeth)(d. 1954) of St. Joseph, Missouri [see n. 1 below]; to her four children, one of whom, Miss Ellen A. Wyeth of St. Joseph, Missouri, acted as CWF's vendor on behalf of all four siblings [see nos. 2-3 below].
n. 1: In 1887, the companion portraits of George and Mary Blair Braxton were loaned to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (see "Exhibition History" and "Publication References") by Mrs. Henrietta Braxton Wyeth. It is not clear whether she owned the portraits outright and exclusively (or, perhaps, merely acted as their lender on behalf of other family members-owners). Henrietta Braxton Horner Wyeth was Mrs. Francis Houston Wyeth of Philadelphia and was a sister of Robert Little Horner and Frederick Horner ("Bibliography").
n. 2 : One of Miss Ellen A. Wyeth's siblings was Sara Wyeth Floyd (Mrs. William H. Floyd, 3rd) of Arlington, Va. The remaining sister and a brother are not identified in CWF file correspondence.
n. 3: Most genealogical data and names are from Horner ("Bibliography").
Mark(s):Two (mostly) typewritten labels that were tacked to the back of the frame during a loan to the Corcoran and moved to the back of the backing board by conservtor Sheldon Keck read as follows.
First: "GEORGE BRAXTON/1734-1761/Brother of Signer of the Declaration/of Independence/Artist Unknown/ - - - - - -/Lent by Mrs. Parker Campbell Wyeth". Handwritten in the lower left corner of the label is "43".
Second: "Since the opening of this Exhibition/it has been definitely decided that/this portrait was painted by/John Wollaston/operavit 1750-1767".
Inscription(s):No original inscriptions found.
Notes in the object file indicate that a small handwritten sticker reading "33-a" was once on the back of a stretcher, but it is now (12/2/2011) unlocated. The number "33a" is scratched into a stretcher.