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Portrait of Captain Thomas Harrison (d. 1855)

1815 probably
Origin: America, Massachusetts, Boston (probably)
Unframed: 33 1/2 x 25 1/2in. (85.1 x 64.8cm) and Framed: 38 x 30 x 1 7/8in.
Oil on basswood panel.
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Acc. No. 1931.100.15
A half-length portrait of a man facing left. The very prominent facial features have been heavily shaded in a red outline, especially along the nose which lays flat against the face, one nostril showing. The mouth and eyes have gray shadows around them. The ear is flat and also has red shading. The complexion of the sitter is rosey, the eyes are blue with white dots in the center and the hair is brown, curly with long sideburns. The sitter is dressed in a captain's uniform with silver epaulets. In his proper left hand, he holds a sword having the head of a eagle. The background of the portrait is basically solid but shows swirls of grays and reds.
The 2 3/4-inch molded gilded frame is a modern replacement.
Label:Belknap's signed and dated portraits range in date from 1807 to 1848, thus placing his companion portraits of Capt. and Mrs. Thomas Harrison (1931.100.16) relatively early in his career. The artist appropriately emphazied the details of Captain Harrison"s military regalia (eagle buttons, epaulets, and sword handle), since the subject had been brevetted major for distinguished service after losing a leg in the Battle of Chippewa in 1814.
Belknap produced more than 170 portraits in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Characteristics of his style include bold outlining and red-hued shading. The majority of his portraits were painted on wood panels, many of them scored with diagonal lines (as ‚ the Harrisons are) in order, it is thought, to simulate the appearance of twill-weave canvas and to help his pigments adhere to the surface.
Provenance:Found in New York by Edith Gregor Halpert, Downtown Gallery, New York, NY; purchased from Halpert November 9, 1931, by Abby Alrich Rockefeller, by whom given to CWF in 1939.