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Portrait of Charles Henry Robertson (1810-1880)

1825-1830, probably
Origin: America, Virginia, Charlotte County
Other (Unframed): 30 1/8 x 24 3/4in. (76.5 x 62.9cm) Framed: 36 3/4 x 31 3/8 x 2 5/8in.
Oil on tulip poplar panel
Gift of the Boswell family in memory of the subject's great-great-grandson, John Iverson Boswell
Acc. No. 2012.100.2,A&B
A half-length portrait of a young man shown seated on a sofa; he poses full-front to the viewer, his arms straight to his sides and his hands not shown. He wears a black coat; cream-colored, double-breasted waistcoat; and a white shirt with a standing collar and a white neck cloth. He has blue eyes and dark brown hair. His hair is cut above his ears on the sides, the top swept upwards on top of his head. He appears to pose in or near a window well. A view through a window is partially visible at the viewer's far left, while interior wood paneling forms most of the backdrop for the figure.

The 4-inch frame is a bronze-painted replacement with raised, swirled corners in 1890-1910-ish Art Nouveau style that may have been added then or, possibly, somewhat later in the 20th century.

Label:Lifelong friends, Charles Robertson and Margaret “Peggy” Osborne grew up on adjoining properties in the Virginia Piedmont. Their portratis were painted about the time of their 1828 marriage and later hung at Pineland, their 2,000-acre plantation in Charlotte County.

Peggy reportedly urged Charles to re-marry in the event of her death. She felt that her friend, Dora Judd, tutor on a neighboring estate, would be a good wife for Charles and a suitable step-mother for her seven children. In 1849, three years after Peggy’s death, Charles complied.

Charles’s full-frontal pose is unusual in an oil portrait of an adult, and both faces are exceptionally stylized, with a strong linear quality. The overlarge window and minutely detailed woodwork in the background of each portrait are equally uncommon. No other paintings by this unidentified artist are presently known, and it is quite likely that he or she was self-trained.
Provenance:From the sitter to his daughter, Mary Lucinda Robertson Boswell (Mrs. John Iverson Boswell)(1833-1921); to her son, Charles Meigs Boswell (1856-1927); to his wife, Etta Lee Elam Boswell (Mrs. Charles Meigs Boswell)(1871-ca. 1963); to her son, Robert Iverson Boswell; about 1991, to his nephew, John Iverson Boswell (1936-2009).
Inscription(s):No original inscriptions found.

On the back of the top frame member in white chalk in forward-slanting hand-printed lettering is "R I Boswell Feb. 65."

On the back of the lower frame member in graphite in script is "3475-7/C[ost?]/35.00."