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Isaac Brownfield Alexander

Alexander, Isaac Brownfield
Place Made:
Camden South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
watercolor –graphite –ink on paper
HOA 5″; WOA 4-1/16″
Accession Number:
Isaac Brownfield Alexander (1812-1884) was born in Camden, South Carolina. His father, Dr. Isaac V. Alexander, had been educated at Princeton. Isaac Brownfield Alexander and his brother Henry Dana Ward Alexander (1810-1865) were both educated at the American Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy in Norwich, Vermont. This is his earliest work: a miniature self-portrait on paper in which he surrounds himself with the ephemera of a classical education. (MESDA loan 5661)

In 1842 he advertised as an artist, jeweler, and silversmith in the Camden Journal. Two miniatures by him are in the Gibbes Museum of Art Collection in Charleston. Alexander embraced the newest technology of his day, becoming an early practitioner of photography. He opened early daguerreotype studios in Camden and Columbia, South Carolina, and in Charlotte, North Carolina. This new technology helped to eliminate the demand for portraits on ivory and democratized portraiture.

RELATED OBJECTS: A miniature portrait of his daughter Ann Lucetta Alexander (1835-1915) (MESDA acc. 5602)

DESCRIPTION: Portrait of a young man looking directly at viewer; having black hair with side burns, and a mouth set firmly. He wears a white shirt with larged pointed collar that lays overtop a black coat; wearing a brown and white checked tie/cravat. Only his right hand is shown and he appears to be holding an object; just underneath his hand is a reddish-brown book. The background shows a partial window or doorway behind his left shoulder, with greenery. Directly behind the sitter is a plain brownish-gray wall; to his right sits a bust on what appears to be a piece of furniture, but due to loss is undetermined; to the very right is a red tiered drapery with gold fringe.

REFERENCES: Robert Leath, “Miniature Discoveries”, The Magazine Antiques, February 2010.

Descended in the family of the artist.
Credit Line:
Loan courtesy of Alexander P Berrang named after Isaac Brownfield Alexander. In memeory of the McCreight family of Camden, SC.