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Portrait of Adam Stephen Dandridge, Sr. (1782-1821)

1799-1800
Origin: America, West Virginia, Jefferson County
Unframed: 35" x 26" and Framed: 38 1/4" x 29 1/4" x 2 1/4"
Oil on canvas
Gift of Edmund P. Dandridge, Jr., and Mrs. Elizabeth Dandridge McDonald
Acc. No. 1975-147,A&B
A half-length portrait of a young man seated in a green-painted Windsor armchair and turned one-quarter towards the viewer's left. His light brown hair is pulled tightly back. He has light blue eyes. His proper left elbow rests over over the back of the chair, while he grasps a book in his proper right hand, which rests in his lap. He wears a black coat with a high rolled collar and brass buttons and a white waistcoat that is decorated with embroidery. A white stock is neatly tied around his neck. He wears green and brown striped pants, and a gold-colored, shield-shaped fob is displayed below his waist. There appears to be an eagle on the fob, which hangs from a green tassle. Behind the sitter to the viewer's right is a red drapery, pulled back to reveal a series of leather bound books on shelves to the left.
The 2-inch molded, black-painted frame is a modern replacement.
Label:Dandridge’s portrait was painted along with three other likenesses of his young half brothers and a sister. The sitter was the son of Alexander Spotswood Dandridge of Berkeley County, Virginia (now West Virginia), and lived most of his adult life in Jefferson County, Virginia (also now West Virginia). Polk’s fondness for detail and strong coloring, often seen in his portraits, is evident here. The influence of Polk’s uncle Charles Willson Peale is strongly apparent in the oval-shaped head, the facial features, and the pose.
During 1798 and the years following, Polk advertised portraiture in Hagerstown, Maryland, and in Richmond, Virginia. During that time, he painted in the Shenandoah Valley areas of Virginia and West Virginia.
Provenance:From the subject's mother, Ann Stephen Dandridge Hunter, to her grandson, the subject's son, Adam Stephen Dandridge, Jr., by provision of item 7 in her will of 1 April 1833 (proved 10 October 1834);
Inscription(s):Below the sitter's right hand is a pamphlet lettered, in part: "[M]onthly Review/Enlarged/For November, 1792/of Vol. IX." The rest is illegible. Inscriptions on the book bindings on the bookshelf behind the sitter are as follows: top shelf, "TORY/STATE" and "JEFFERSON/NOTES"; middle shelf, "---ALEY/---OPHY", "ROUSSEAU/ON/POLITICS", "WEALTH/OF/NATIONS/2", and "WEALTH/OF/NATIONS/3"; bottom shelf, "WINS/---TANICAL/GARDEN", "VATTEL'S/LAW OF/NATIONS", "RUTHERFORD'S/INSTITUTES", and "---RUT/IN---."
CWF researcher Julia F. Davis, speculated 8 May 1975 that the first book on the bottom shelf must have been Erasmus Darwin's THE BOTANIC GARDEN. A Poem. London [1789-] 1790-1791.
A manuscript item received with this and two other family portraits (1975-148 and 1975-149) may reference the re-framing of this painting to match frames on the other two later ones: the MS, in CW's Special Collections, reads: "Baltimore Oct 26 1831/Mr J. McCaughtry--To [Thos?] Palmer Dr/To 3 portrait frames---$27..00/[ditto mark under preceding word 'To'][Box?] for do-- do-- 1..75/$28..75".