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Portrait of George Booth (?-1777)

1748-1750
Origin: Virginia, Williamsburg or Gloucester County
Unframed: 50 1/4" x 39 1/2" and Framed: 56 1/2" x 46 1/2"
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1975-242,A&B
A full-length portrait of a young man standing in a landscape, holding a bow and arrow, and with a small dog at his feet. The subject stands in a formal pose, with his proper right hand on his hip and with his proper left foot turned at a right angle to his supporting foot, his head slightly turned to the viewer's left but his eyes turned toward the viewer.

He wears a dark brown great coat and knee breeches, a bright red waistcoat having heavy gold brocade trim, and a white shirt and neckcloth. His powdered hair is curled back away from his face. His shoes are black with metal buckles and red heels.

His small shaggy dog displays unrealistically numerous teeth as he holds in his mouth a bird shot through with an arrow.

The subject stands slightly in front of and in between two female busts on plinths, with a distant view of a formal garden in the near background and, in the distant background, a vast walled estate.

The 3 7/8-inch bolection-molded, black-painted frame has a flat liner and is original. In October 2018, microscopic evidence revealed the liner was once sand-gilded and the furniture lab restored that portion of the frame accordingly.
Label:George Booth was the son of Mordecai Booth and Joyce Armistead Booth of Ware Neck, Gloucester County, Virginia. The Booth family may have been acquainted with Dering when he lived for a brief period in Gloucester. Dering’s three-quarter length portrait of George’s mother also survives in the CWF collection.

George’s portrait is naïve in the manner practiced by Dering, but also pretentious and unusual. The two female, bust-length sculptures on plinths are unique in American colonial portraiture. Young George seems puffed up with manly pride as he poses between these figures with his bow and arrow, accompanied by a small toothy dog holding his kill. The buildings in the background are unidentified and were probably an artistic invention meant to reflect the sitter’s standing among Virginia’s plantation society.
Provenance:The portrait descended in the family of the subject to CWF's source, Mrs. & Mrs. William B. Taliaferro, Norfolk, Va. The exact line of descent has not been established.