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Portrait of Joseph Priestly Dorr (1805-1879)

1814-1815
Origin: America, New York, Columbia County
Unframed: 24 3/8 x 20in. (61.9 x 50.8cm) and Framed: 28 1/4 x 23 7/8in.
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1979.100.8
Half-length portrait of a young boy standing, slightly turned to anatomical left. His far arm rests on the slat crest rail of a pale green-painted arrowback chair decorated with gold leaves outlined in red on crest and arrows, a gold stripe outlined in brown, and brown striping. The boy's near hand is barely tucked inside his light greenish-brown dresscoat with self-covered buttons. He wears black button-front trousers, and only the lower edge of his yellow, red-striped waistcoat shows beneath his coat, which is cut just above waist-length in front, with a cut-in tail at the back. He wears a white open-necked shirt with wide, pleated collar. The boy has dark brown eyes and his straight dark blonde hair is brushed forward from the back to frame his face. The face is heavily outlined in reddish-brown, the outline of face and ear showing some deviation from the artist's initial roughing in of shape in flesh tones. The boy's upper eyelids are heavily outlined in black, his mouth exaggeratedly upturned at the corners, and his ears protrude quite noticeably. The background of the painting is mauve-toned light gray.
Original 2 1/4-inch scoop-molded frame, painted black, with quarter-round outer molding, painted gold.
Label:As was typical at this early stage of his long career, Phillips initially blocked in large areas of the head in a pale flesh tone, experimented with contours, and finally defined those that seemed most satisfactory with a reddish brown line. Frequently, abandoned outlines were only scantily covered and, given the increased translucency of the upper paint layer that developed over time, evidence of Phillips's search for correct shape is now clearly visible in, for instance, the double image of Joseph's ear lobe and the contours of his far cheek.
Joseph Priestly Dorr was born July 9, 1805, married Julia A. Pixley October 8, 1835, and settled in Hillsdale, Columbia County, New York. Like his father, he practiced medicine. He died January 14, 1879, and was buried in the Dorr family plot in Chatham cemetery.
Provenance:Acquired from the estate of a great-niece of the subject, Mrs. Neilson T. Parker (Zulma Steele) of Woodstock, NY. [Mrs. Parker was a granddaughter of the subject's brother Seneca Milo Dorr (1820-1884)].