Rogers, Nathaniel - portrait of a young man

This miniature portrait was acquired as a pair, together with the accompanying portrait which is either by Samuel P Howes (1806-1881) or Mrs Moses B Russell (1809-1854). At the time of acquisition the miniatures were both unattributed.

Both miniatures were joined in a cheap modern frame when acquired, which detracted from their appearance and no doubt contributed to the artists not being recognised by the vendor. At first glance it seems they are husband and wife as the two frames are joined by two metal hinges. However, it seems more likely that both miniatures were removed from period frames in the 1970's.

However, this one has been attributed, fairly confidently, to Nathaniel Rogers (1787-1844) who mainly worked in New York and was one of New York's leading miniaturists in the early 19C.

Rogers worked in New York and died in 1844, whereas Howes and Mrs Russell both worked in Massachusetts. The dress worn by the young lady, dating from around 1850, is probably twenty years later than the clothing of the young man which is from around 1830. Their acquisition in Philadelphia, rather than New York or Boston, is perhaps a reason for the vendor not recognising either of the artists.

Johnson comments on Rogers' work, "Rogers employed a palette of clear, lively color. His work of around 1815 was already delicate and sophisticated. The subjects of his highly individualized portraits are presented in a direct and appealing manner."

"Rogers used an oval format until about 1825, when he began to favor a rectangular one. He painted faces with a gentle stipple, often modelling the shadows in tones of red and emphasizing the eyes. When representing women he tended to make the heads disproportionately large and the bodies small. Details of dresses are sharply defined with gum arabic."

In fact this portrait looks so much like a Rogers, it appears as if it has "escaped" from colour plate 15 of the Manney Collection catalogue!

This young man is sitting in the same pose and on the same chair as the older man there, the sky is similar to that for both the older and younger lady, and the left hand edge of the window opening is very similar.

Rogers has painted the face of this young man showing a well-fed and slightly self satisfied expression, with rosy cheeks.

Within this collection there are three other miniatures by Rogers, all are oval in shape. One is of David Ryerson and another is of a Master Bucknell. Expert opinion has advised that one of a man with a mustard colored background as shown here, is also by Nathaniel Rogers.

The sitter in this portrait is unknown. 1238

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