Alexander, J B - portrait of two children

This miniature portrait is signed J B Alexander. Reference books say little about him other than that a J B Alexander was active in Charleston between 1830 and 1840.

However, a J B Alexander (1812->1880) has now been located in the 1850 census for Camden, Kershaw, SC, where he gave his age as 38, his occupation as artist, his assets as $2000, and his place of birth as South Carolina. He was living with his wife E A (E M?) Alexander aged 36 and several children; Ann Alexander 15, Jas (?) Alexander 12, A A Alexander 10, G G Alexander 5, and J H Alexander 2 who were all born in SC. A teacher from Canada called I P Lee also lived with the family.

He was still there for the 1860 census, but now described himself as a silversmith, his assets as $14,600 and they had two more children M M Alexander 10, and W S Alexander 6 mths. There was also a S Norton (Horton?) aged 75 living with them, perhaps his mother-in-law. He presumably changed his occupation due to the lack of painting commissions, after the advent of photgraphy, but must have been successful as a silversmith for his assets to increase so much in ten years.

In the 1880 census he still lived in Camden, although now a widower, and with the occupation of jeweller. His son Geo C Alexander, a newspaper publisher, lived with him. They family has not yet been located in the 1870 census, although it seems likely that George was the George Alexander from SC who was working as a printer in NY in 1870. His age was given as 20, but all ages in that census return are rounded to the nearest ten years.

The sitters in the miniature are unknown, but it is even possible his children modelled for this miniature. 948

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This appears to be a copy of "The Calmady Children," painted in 1823 by Sir Thomas Lawrence and popular as an engraving. The design was also used for a thermoplastic daguerreotype case. The original painting is in the Metropolitan.
--Bill Becker
ps -- Great collection!