Unknown - portrait of Aaron Burr

This miniature portrait is unsigned and lacks the artistic skill of an expert artist, being painted in something of a primitive style, but it has been found to be an important item.

The miniature was purchased as an unidentified sitter, but from the research outlined here, it is now believed to be an early portrait of Aaron Burr (1756-1836).

Although based on the original Vanderlyn painting of Burr, it is possibly copied from the Parker profile engraving or, perhaps even more likely, another more coarse engraving of the early 19C.

It is painted on a thick piece of ivory, which is an indication of early 19C age, as is framing in a chased miniature case. The painter did not get the eyes quite right, but was more successful with the chin and the clothing. Also, the artist appears to show Burr with natural hair and no hair-tie, whereas the Parker engraving shows him wearing a wig and with a hair-tie.

The original engraving itself was copied by G Parker in 1826 from the 1802 John Vanderlyn portrait of Burr, which can be seen here and also at Aaron Burr -- Encyclopædia Britannica

Various engravings derived from the painting seem to exist. One version is shown on this page, but another version can be seen at Aaron Burr

Even though the eyes are not well painted on this miniature, a comparison of the various details of this miniature, shows many similarities and it therefore appears the engraving was the most likely source for the miniature.

The type of heavily chased frame the miniature is housed in was rarely used after 1835 and hence by the style of frame, it seems that this portrait would have been painted just before, or immediately after, Aaron Burr's death in 1836, and perhaps sold as a memorial portrait.

Also acquired for this collection and shown here, is an early photographic slide of the Vanderlyn portrait. This portrait was published by Yale University Press as part of its series "The Pageant of America".

This slide appears to show Burr with deep mutton-chop whiskers, which do not seem to feature so prominently in the other portraits. It may be shadow, or perhaps the photograph is of a modified version of the Vanderlyn portrait.

It seems that other miniature portraits copied from the engraving may exist, although to date only one has been found. This other miniature, as depicted here, shows Burr wearing a blue coat and can be seen at the New York Historical Society.

However, it appears the NYHS miniature of Burr was probably painted after 1900, as the frame looks modern and the blue pastel colour used for his jacket is a modern colour that was not used in the 19C.

This must also be a copy from an engraving, as a copy painted by an artist viewing the original portrait would have much more likely have shown him wearing the original black coat.

Just for comparative and reference purposes, a close up of the NYHS miniature is shown here, but for the proper reference to it, including a full picture of the frame, please refer to the official NYHS website which can be reached via the following link¤trecord=1&quicksearch=aaron%20burr

For more about Aaron Burr, including current updates, see The Aaron Burr Association For another portrait and a photo of his grave, see 745

No comments: