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Portrait of Dr. Russell Dorr (1771-1824)

1814-1815
Origin: America, New York, Columbia County
Unframed: 38 x 29 7/8in. (96.5 x 75.9cm) and Framed: 41 5/8 x 33 3/4in.
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1958.100.16
Man seen three quarter length seated in armchair that is upholstered. Viewed from man's left side with face turned towards viewer. Man wears black coat with high lapels and high collar. He wears white shirt with lace ruffles and tied stock (in a bow) at neck. The chair is upholstered with a reddish brown material and has nails or studs holding the fabric down, and one can see the wooden arm. There are books on a shelf on the left of the picture. They are bound in brown and have red on spines. The background is a neutral color of light brown. The man's hair is combed backwards and slightly receding. He sits with his right arm on the arm of the chair and hidden in his lap.
The 2 1/2-inch scoop-molded frame, painted black, with quarter-round outer molding painted gold, is original.
Label:In 1814-1815, Ammi Phillips painted eight separate canvases depicting the family of Dr. Russell Dorr (1771-1824), a respected physician in Chatham Center, New York. The subjects' poses and their canvas sizes indicate that the eight portraits were executed as four pendants, which decrease in paired sizes according to the subjects' ages. The parents' likenesses, shown here, are the largest. The group exemplified Phillips's early, so-called "Border Period" style of painting in its generally pastel coloration and painstaking concern with volumetric mass. Isolated and detached from their backgrounds and accompanying props, sitters from this period seem to hover in space and are often described as "dreamlike." By 1811, Ammi Phillips had launched his ultimately long and prolific career as a portraitist. He worked predominantly in western Connecticut and Massachusetts and in‚ the neighboring counties of upstate New York.
Provenance:From the adult subject to his wife, Polsapianna Bull Dorr; to her son-in-law and daughter, Rev. Nathaniel Goodell Spalding and Harriet Dorr Spalding, Schodack Landing, NY; to their son and daughter-in-law, Nathaniel Bull Spalding and Cora Boyce Spalding, Schenectady and Schodack Landing, NY; to J. Stuart Halladay and Herrel George Thomas, Sheffield, Mass. Halladay died in 1951, leaving his interest in their jointly-owned collection to his partner, Thomas. Thomas died in 1957, leaving his estate to his sister, Mrs. Albert N. Petterson, who was AARFAC's vendor.




Inscription(s):The titles painted on the spines of the books to the left of the sitter read, from left to right, "RUSH, DARWIN, BELL, HUNTER", and "WILSON".