Portrait of Tooanahowi (?-1744)
Primary support: 4 1/16 x 3 9/16in. (10.3 x 9cm) and Framed (in Frame acc. no. 1991-354, B for exhibition purposes): 11 7/8 x 10 3/4in.
Acc. No. 2005-125
A basically linear lead pencil drawing of a young boy's head shown in profile to the right. Hatching shades his lower cheek and the back part of his head. His head bears a short mop of hair on top with a longer lock falling to the rear; the lower back part of his head is bare (plucked free of hair). A simple line defines his shoulder, but no clothing is delineated, nor are any background details shown.
Label:This simple, quickly-drawn profile represents the youngest member of the small group of Creek Indians who accompanied Georgia founder James Oglethorpe to London in order to meet with the fledgling colony's Board of Trustees in 1734. Touanohoui's command of the English language delighted the Board and, back in Georgia, he served as one of the colony's ablest translators. In fact, Oglethorpe called him "the best interpreter we have."
Touanohoui also supported the British militarily, ultimately dying in their cause in his early twenties in an engagement against a group of Yamasee Indians fighting on behalf of the Spanish. A far more distressing aspect of this young man's biography---and of broader European-Native relations---derives from his habituation to alcohol which, Methodist minister John Wesley admitted, "our English had taught him." [see note 1].
Colonial Williamsburg's sketch of the then fifteen-year-old boy is ascribed to Jonathan Richardson, Sr. (1667-1745), then considered one of London's most fashionable portraitists. Touanohoui also appears in two paintings done in London by Willem Verelst, one, a depiction of the Board's Common Council meeting with eight of the Indians, the other a double portrait showing Touanohoui with his great-uncle, the acknowledged leader of the traveling group, Tomachichi. (Verelst's large group portrait is at Winterthur; the double portrait is unlocated and today is known only by John Faber's engraving after it, an imprint of which is owned by Colonial Williamsburg).
Provenance:Jonathan Richardson, Sr. [per his collection stamp on the reverse of the drawing]; sold at an unidentified auction [perhaps Christie's, London] as part of a mixed lot, date unknown; to dealer John F. C. Phillips of The Gallery Downstairs, London,; to dealer (and business partner of the immediately preceding) Thomas A. Deans of Tallahassee, Fl.; to Francis McNairy (1943-2009), Savannah, Ga., who was CWF's source, in May 1992.
Mark(s):The monogram "R" [collection stamp of Jonathan Richardson, Sr.] is stamped above the date mentioned in the preceding.
See also "Inscriptions."
Inscription(s):In lead pencil in script along the lower edge on the reverse is "Pr[ince]. Touanohoui/over with his father and mother by Gen. Oglethorpe" and, above this and to the right of it, is, "14 Oct 1734".
See also "Marks."