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Colonel John Jameson

Artist/Maker:
Williams, William Joseph
Place Made:
Culpeper County Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
1793-1794
Medium:
pastel on paper –canvas
Dimensions:
HOA: 21 5/8; WOA: 17
Accession Number:
2961.1
Description:
SITTER: Colonel John Jameson (1751-1810) attended William & Mary College, died in 1810 and is buried at “Cedar Grove” which was his home in the Culpeper area. A cavalry colonel in the American Revolution, Jameson captured the British spy, Major John Andre (1750-1780) (posing as John Anderson). Andre was carrying documents which eventually convicted him and led to the discovery of Benedict Arnold’s (1741-1801) treason. Jameson was a member of the Masonic Lodge in Alexandria (over which George Washington presided). He was also a founding member of the Culpeper Lodge, which was established in December, 1794. He married twice; his second wife was Elizabeth Davenport (1769-1829), daughter of Colonel Birkett Davenport (1737/8-1817).

ARTIST: William Joseph Williams was born in New York City in 1759, and was a nephew of the painter John Mare (1739-1802/3) who worked in New York, New England, and North Carolina. Williams was trained in New York—perhaps by Mare—and his earliest known works are dated 1783 from that city. Although it is known that he worked in oil, all of his surviving works are pastel on paper.

Williams pursued a life-long career as an itinerant painter, living and working in Edenton, North Carolina (1785), Virginia (1793), Philadelphia (1796), Georgetown, District of Columbia (1798), Charleston, South Carolina (1801-1804), New Bern, North Carolina (1804-1807), and New York City (1807-1817).

In Edenton in 1785 he lived in the household of his uncle, John Mare, where he drew portraits of, among others, the Reverend Charles Pettigrew and his wife Mary Blount Pettigrew (MESDA acc. 3332, 3333). In Virginia in 1793-94 he spent time in Culpeper County, where he drew portraits of Colonel John Jameson, his wife Elizabeth (Davenport) Jameson, and her father Birkett Davenport (MESDA acc. 2961.1-3)

He concluded his life as an itinerant artist in New Bern, North Carolina, where he worked and taught at the New Bern Academy. In 1821 he converted to Roman Catholicism with his family and added the middle name Joseph. He died in New Bern in 1822.

RELATED WORKS: MESDA has three Jameson-Davenport family portraits by William Joseph Williams: portraits of Colonel John Jameson, his wife Elizabeth (Davenport) Jameson, and her father Birkett Davenport (MESDA acc. 2961.1-3). MESDA owns another later portrait of Colonel John Jamison by the French-born artist Francis Cezeron (MESDA Acc. No. 3229.1).

MESDA also has two additional pastel portraits by Williams: portraits of the Reverend Charles Pettigrew and his wife Mary Blount Pettigrew (MESDA acc. 3332, 3333) done in Edenton, North Carolina, in 1785.

COMPARISON: Compared with the portraits of the Pettigrews (MESDA acc. 3332, 3333), this pastel shows a less sophisticated handling of the chalks. Notice the lack of background coloring, giving no sense of depth to the face lines. Eyes are well-drawn, but the body is not well defined. Shadows are shallow and indicate light from the upper left.

DESCRIPTION: Pastel on paper, mounted on linen. This portrait is of a man. This is a portrait of a man with gray hair and grayish blue eyes. He wears a yellow vest with a white stock, and the vest has yellow buttons. The portrait is done in the shape of an oval, and the frame surrounding it is rectangular. The oval is done half in white and half in black. The work has a primitive look to it since the background is very flat and without much depth.

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Jan Mendenhall Lewis