Although this pair of miniature portraits is unsigned and by a Chinese artist, they are included in the American Gallery due to the identity of the sitters, who are Admiral Charles Stanhope Cotton (1843-1909) and his wife Rebecca Cecilia Cotton (1844-1926).
There are several hand written inscriptions on the reverse, one of which states "Made in Hong Kong China 1883". Thus it is by an unknown Chinese artist. Miniature portraits of this type are uncommon, but do arise from time to time and often represent naval officers or missionaries who called into Hong Kong. They were often copied from photographs.
However, as the Chinese artists had never seen the coloring in traditional American and British miniature portraits, they instead copied photographs with a great deal of skill, sometimes even amending them, as the attached example demonstrates.
This collector is very grateful to Paul I Johnston who has provided the photographic image shown here of Rebecca Cotton. Paul comments "the photographer's backmark on this portrait is "H. Uyeno No. 5 Nakasima Nagasaki Japan," and in Admiral Charles Cotton's handwriting on the bottom the date is given as "December, 1882."
This is very interesting, as it appears Admiral and Mrs Cotton were in Japan in 1882 when the photograph was taken, but the next year 1883 he was in Hong Kong and had the portraits painted. The portrayal of Rebecca's hair is identical, but the Chinese painter has softened her features a little and amended the dress worn by Rebecca Cotton from a day dress to an evening dress.
On the reverse of the miniature of Admiral Cotton it states "1922 - Charles Stanhope Cotton Commander US Navy, comd'g USS "Monocacy' Asiatic station 1880-1883 incl. Born Milwaukee July 15 1843, died Nice, France July 9 1909. Father of Charles S. Jr and Grandfather of Emily Robertson Cotton. Veteran Civil War, Korean War, Spanish-American War".
For pictures of the USS Monocacy (1866-1903) which was a side wheeler steamship, see Monocacy Monocacy served for 37 years ending in 1903. One of her last active duty missions was partaking in the action commonly called the Boxer Rebellion which took place in 1900/1901.
For a full account of Charles Cotton's role as captain of the USS Harvard, a converted passenger liner which was used to transport prisoners during the Spanish-American War see HARVARD Incident, THE The Harvard Incident referred to the killing of several prisoners who were mistakenly thought to be attacking the guards.
More about Admiral Cotton, including another portrait shown here and which appears to have been the source of the painted miniature, can be found at Charles Cotton,
See also www.history.navy.mil/ar/charlie/cotton
On the reverse of the miniature of Mrs Cotton, it states "1922 Rebecca Cecilia Cotton, daughter of Brig Gen'l John Robertson of Detroit, Mich. Born Detroit, Mich Oct 30 1844 (sic - s/be Feb 15 1853), married Aug 30 1865 at Detroit to Charles Stanhope Cotton, later Rear Admiral U S Navy who deceased Nice, France July 9, 1909. Mother of Charles Stanhope Cotton Jr, Grandmother of Emily Robertson Cotton".
The father of Mrs Cotton was General John Robertson of Michigan. He was the author of a significant history of Michigan soldiers who served in the Civiv War. It is titled "Michigan in the War".
It is fairly easy to follow the family through some of the census records, despite overseas service. However, Charles can be found in the 1850 census aged 7. His father Lester H Cotton is recorded there as a US Marshal, which no doubt was an encouragement for Charles to follow a military career. Both of Charles parents, Lester and Sarah were born in New York.
For the 1870 census, Charles was married and living at Annapolis MD as a Lieutenant-Commander. His wife is recorded as Rebecca C Cotton here, but on other occasions gives her name as Cecilia. Their only child, Charles Stanhope Cotton Jr was then three months old, being born on Feb 10, 1870.
In 1900 Charles and Cecilia are living in Washington as boarders. Admiral Cotton died in France in 1909, but it is understood his body was returned to the United States and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, see Cotton, Charles Stanhope
In the 1920 census, their son Charles Stanhope Cotton Jr is an Army captain with other Army personnel in Camp Pike in Arkansas. 259