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Portrait of George Gibson Howard (1776-1861)

ca. 1815
Origin: America, Kentucky, Mt. Sterling
Framed: 33 1/4 x 28 1/4 x 2 3/8in.
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase, The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund
Acc. No. 2015.100.1,A&B
A half-length portrait of a man in a dark blue or black suit jacket is shown seated with his proper right hand resting on a book-marked ledger. Under his coat he wears a white shirt with white stock and ruffle as well as a white waistcoat. Behind the sitter is a brown background, slightly lighter around his head. A red drape with gold fringe hangs in the upper right corner, tied back with a thin golden rope.
Label:These portraits of dry goods merchant George Howard and his wife, Cassandra Hukill Howard, are among Thomas Jefferson Wright’s earliest known works. The Howards took to the young artist and made arrangements for him to meet celebrated local artist, Matthew Harris Jouett, who himself wrote a letter of introduction to Thomas Sully for Wright in 1822. How much of a role the Howards played in Wright’s artistic career is yet to be determined, but a portrait of their son, Thomas Gibson Howard, was painted by Wright in 1833, suggesting the couple stayed in touch with the young artist.

Despite the vivid red color of the drapery in Cassandra Howard’s portrait, close examination of her dress suggests the greyish-purple pigment has faded over time. Tests reveal that the original color was a much more vibrant lavender. This computer-generated image shows how Wright originally intended the dress to appear.
Provenance:Sitter to his daughter, Elizabeth Howard of Lexington, Ky; to her niece, Emily Clarence Barnes of Lexington, Ky; to her second cousin, Elizabeth Howard Embry of Paris, Ky; to her cousin, Kenneth Calvin Thomson Jr. of Richmond, Ky; to his daughter Elizabeth Embry of Paris Ky; to our vendor Clifton Anderson Art and Antiques of Lexington, Ky.

Inscription(s):Modern inscription in black ink found on the reverse of the frame:

George Gibson Howard 1776-1861
Husband of Cassandra Hukill Howard

Modern inscription in black ink found of the reverse of the canvas:

Major George Gibson Howard
Mt. Sterling, Ky.
1815 - painted in Richmond Co.
B. 12/27/1776 Richmond Co., Va
(orginial inscription of Northampton Co. has a line through it.
D. 10/12/1861 Mt. Sterling, Ky
Son of James Howard + Hannah Campbell
early settlers in Woodford Co., Ky
Married Cassandra Hukill April 22, 1806 of New Castle Co., Delaware
in Mt. Sterling

ownership:
1. Mrs. Alexand M. Barnes of Lexington Ky (nee Elizabeth Howard) dau. of George
2. Emily Clarence Barnes. Grandaughter of #1. 1871-1956 Lexington Ky
3. Elizabeth Howard Embry 1885-1971 Paris, Ky (2nd cuz. of #2)
4. Kenneth Calvin Thomson Jr. - B 1940 Nashville Tn. (double cuz. of #3) + a descendent of Louisa Howard (sis. of #1) who M. Judge Bowling Embry of Richmond, Ky.