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Portrait of Augustine Moore (ca. 1685-1743)

Probably 1738-1740
Origin: America, Virginia, King William County
Unframed: 49 1/8 x 40 1/16in. (124.8 x 101.8cm) and Framed: 56 x 47 1/2 x 2 1/2in.
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1976-376
A three-quarter-length portrait of a man standing at a writing desk and turned, his body nearly in profile to the viewer's right. His head is partly turned toward the viewer, his gaze on the viewer. He wears a full-bottomed white wig, a reddish-brown coat, and a white shirt and neck cloth. The shirt cuffs have no lace, the sleeves being gathered into simple bands. Supported by the desk and the subject's hands is a sheet of paper; on the desk, next to the paper, is an inkstand with two quills held in it. Books appear on a shelf in what appears to be a built-in cupboard or recessed wall alcove in the upper right quadrant of the composition. The desk is covered with a green [presumably baize] cloth held in place by brass tacks and overhanging the edge by only a few inches, thus exposing the desk's turned leg.
The 4-inch carved and gilded frame is original. It incorporates cutout trefoils at each corner. A sanded flat sets next the sight edge, which is ornamented with continuous low relief decoration. The outer, ogee curve of the front frame has three reserves on each side and two each on the top and lower members, the reserves alternating with scrolling, flowering vines that emanate from cornucopia-like devices. At center top and center bottom, the vines are gathered into a bar from which a fleur-de-lis emanates (in each case, pointed away from the portrait sitter). The outer edge of the back frame is carved in continuous low-relief ornament. The frame was conserved by J. H. Guttmann, New York, NY, in 1976. See the frame description for companion portrait 1976-377 concerning microscopic identification of the wood of that frame.
Label:Only scant, indirect evidence of Charles Bridges's artistic training and practice survives in his native England, and how he acquired his skills is unknown. Numerous canvases survive from the decade or so that he painted in Tidewater Virginia, however. Stylistically, these reveal his awareness of the work of Sir Godfrey Kneller or Charles Jervas, successive Principal Painters to the King.

Augustine Moore was one of the wealthiest planters in the colony, his land holdings spreading over four counties including King William, where he erected Chelsea plantation. About 1714, he married the widowed Elizabeth Todd Seaton (?-after 1742), and they had at least three sons and two daughters. The portraits of the Moores retain their original frames, an extraordinarily rare and important survival.
Provenance:The following line of descent for CWF acc. nos. 1976-376 and 1976-377 is based partly on Michael Johnson to CWF, 11 August 1998, and on other, earlier documents in the file; it is partly conjectural:

From Augustine Moore to his widow, Elizabeth Todd Seaton Moore; to her son, Bernard Moore (ca. 1720-1775); to his widow, Anna Katherine Spotswood Moore (d. 1802); to [her nephew by marriage?] Bernard Moore II (d. 1806); to his widow, Lucy Leiper Moore (d. ca. 1812); to [her son?], Andrew L. Moore (d. 1828); to his wife, Ann Nelson Moore (d. 1865/1866); to her daughter, Lucy Moore Robinson.

Lucy Moore Robinson and her husband sold "Chelsea" (the Moore family plantation home in King William Co., Va.) in 1870 and moved to New Kent Co.. Va., taking the portraits with them.

By 1898, from Lucy Moore Robinson to her son, Leiper Moore Robinson, Sr., of Bowling Green, Va.; on 19 October 1898, sold 1976-376 and 1976-377 (and five other Moore family portaits) to his niece, Mrs. Isaac Newton Jones (nee Louise Beverly Turner)(1866-1943). Acc. nos. 1976-376, -377 then descended to the latter's granddaughter, Mrs. Helen Ballou of Warner Robins, Ga., who was CWF's source.