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Portrait of Catherine Macomb Mason (Mrs. John Mason, Jr.) and her son, John Henry Mason

1829
Origin: America, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Overall: 36 1/2 x 29 1/2in. (92.7 x 74.9cm) Framed: 42 x 35 x 1 5/8in.
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase, The Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections Fund
Acc. No. 2017-4,A&B
Portrait of a seated woman holding a child in her lap. The woman's body is turned away from the viewer and she has her head turned over her right shoulder, looking back towards the viewer. She wears a light olive green gown with a mustard yellow wrap with blue trim. Her hair is dark brown and pulled back into a chignon with curls framing her face. The child is wrapped in a white blanket. He has strawberry blonde hair that curls on the top of his head. Both are seated on a red chaise lounge before a red drape.
Label:Here Thomas Sully captured the love of first-time mother Catherine Macomb Mason for her year-old son, John Henry. Catherine and her husband, John Mason Jr., lived in Georgetown, D. C. A noted politician and lawyer, John was the grandson of George Mason, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights (which later served as the basis for the U.S. Bill of Rights). Catherine and John married in 1827 and John Henry was born a year later, the first of 10 children. Sadly four of them died very young, including John Henry, who passed away two years after posing with his mother for this portrait.

In a journal entry for June 1, 1829, Sully noted that he “began Mrs. Mason and Child.” Nearly two months later, he completed the portrait along with a likeness of Catherine’s father, Major General Alexander Macomb, War of 1812 hero and Commander and Chief of the United States Army at West Point.
Provenance:The sitter's father, General Alexander Macomb, of New York; to the sitter, Mrs. John Mason, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; by descent of the family; sold at Christie's New York sale 8247, lot 17, May 5, 1999; to Alan Miller of Quakertown, Pennsylvania; sold at Sotheby's New York sale NO9605, lot 2228, January 19, 2017; to Colonial Williamsburg Foundation