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Portrait of a Musician (formerly known as Peter Farrington)

1781
Origin: America, South Carolina, Charleston (probably)
Unframed: 41 1/4 x 33in. (104.8 x 83.8cm) and Framed: 48 1/2 x 39 3/4in.
Oil on canvas
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Acc. No. 1942.100.1,A&C
A three-quarter length portrait of a man shown turned a quarter towards his proper right, against a dark brown background with a large pipe organ to his right, his right hand touching the keyboard. He wears a royal blue coat having big blue buttons with gold borders. He also wears a brown, gray-buttoned waistcoat, brown breeches, a white ruffled shirt, and a neckcloth. His thin brown hair is pulled back from his face in a queue. He has blue eyes. He holds an open music book in his left hand, the pages shown with notes on them.

A replacement 3 3/4-inch stained, molded frame with gilt inner border, est. made during the second half of the nineteenth century, was provided by Knoedler's in 1944 and remained on the picture until June 20, 2012, when it was replaced with a (heretofore) unaccessioned modern reproduction frame originally made for use on Sauthier's Map of New York, acc. no. 1968-135. The latter frame is a 2 1/2-inch black-painted cyma reversa with gilded liner, now accessioned as 1942.100.1,C.
Label:When acquired by the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, this portrait was believed to represent Peter Farrington of Boston by an unidentified artist. An inscription on the back of the canvas, now obscured by a new lining, is said to read “AE 33y PF / Dec. 12, 1781.” The subject stands before a pipe organ holding a music book with the name “S. Brockiner” painted on the right page. Neither the Farrington nor Brockiner name has been found in sources related to eighteen-century organs, organists, psalmody, music, or musicians in America or England, although a similar name, “Brockimer,” is linked to early hymns, at least two of which appear in hymnals associated with Charles Wesley.
If the picture is by Daniel Badger, as suspected, then it was painted in Charleston five years before the artist died and during the Revolutionary War years.
Provenance:The Old Print Shop, New York, NY; Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, by whom given to Colonial Williamsburg.
Inscription(s):The words lettered on the proper left page of the music book are as follows: "All ye that pass by/Jesus My Hope, For me of . . . with Clamour purified the to Calvary for . . ./(undecipherable) . . . let it . . . (undecipherable) . . . ." On the proper right page are the words "S.Brockiner/Still may I walk as in the Sight My prior Observer see,/Thou by reverent love unite my Child like Heart to thee. Still let me till my Days are past . . ./Jesus feet . . . at last my features by his side."

An inscription within a painted oval on the primary support, now covered by a lining canvas, was documented via photography as: "AE 33y/PF/Dec.12,/1781."