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Portrait of Russell Griffin Dorr (1807-1860)

1814-1815
Origin: America, New York, Columbia County
Unframed: 24 5/8 x 20in. (62.5 x 50.8cm) and Framed: 28 1/8 x 23 7/8in.
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1958.100.25
Half-length portrait of a young boy standing besides a pale blue-green painted side chair, his proper right arm resting on the back of the chair. He wears black, fly-front, buttoned breeches. His brown coat has tails in the back, a short waist in the front, and is is partially buttoned with his proper left hand stuck inside it. He wears a white round ruffled collar. He has stringy blonde hair, brown eyes, and very light eye brows. The chair is decorated with gold leaves outlined in red. The background of the painting is a purplish brown.
The 2 1/4-inch scoop-molded frame, painted black, with gold-painted quarter-round outer molding, is original. The lower member of the frame had had a filler strip added at the bottom; the gold-painted outer molding has been recently painted and may also be a replacement.
Label:The portrait was conceived as a pendant, or companion, to a separate Phillips portrait of the child's older brother, Joseph Priestly Dorr (1805-1879)(acc. no. 1979.100.8). In fact, the entire suite of eight Dorr family canvases was executed in paired, diminishing sizes depending on the subjects' ages: the adult Dorrs' portraits match in size and are the two largest of the group, their two eldest children are the next smaller in size, etc. The grouping is an impressive one, probably the most ambitious attempted by Phillips during this early period of his long career.
Russell was admitted to the bar in 1829 and maintained an active law practice until his death. In 1832, he wed Harriet Park (1814-1907), and the couple lived in Hillsdale, Columbia County, New York.
Provenance:From the subject to his wife, Mrs. Russell Griffin Dorr (Harriet Park)(1814-1907), Hillsdale, NY; to her daughter, Mrs. Harriet Paulina Dorr Starkweather (d. 1936), Hillsdale, NY, and Lake Helen, Florida; to her first cousin, Miss Bessie Peck, North Chatham, NY; to J. Stuart Halladay and Herrell 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):Upside down in penciled script on the verso of the lower member of the frame is "Jos[e]ph P Dr.[?] . . . p". The largely illegible inscription is difficult to explain unless frames for Russell and Joseph Dorr's portraits were switched or confused at some point. (See the companion portrait, acc. no. 1979.100.8). The children's given identities are substantiated by their having been painted, or at least posed, in order by age.