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Sarah Seabrook

The Payne Limner
Place Made:
Richmond Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
oil on canvas
Canvas: HOA: 39 1/4″; WOA: 32″ Framed: HOA:42 1/2″; WOA: 35 1/4″
Accession Number:
SITTER: Sarah Seabrook (1773-1803) was born in Norfolk on October 18, 1773 to Nicholas Brown and Mary (Dutcher) Seabrook. At age twenty-one, on November 3, 1794, she married Richmond attorney James Rind in a double wedding ceremony with her sister Mary. Sarah had three children: Nicholas Brown Seabrook Rind, Maria Dutcher Rind, and Betsy Rind. In July 1803, shortly after Betsys’ death, the Rinds left Richmond for the spa town of Warm Springs, Virginia; James died en route and Sarah died shortly after her arrival. The couple were subsequently buried in the town of Staunton.

James Rind (1771-1803) was the youngest son of William and Clementina Rind, printers of the Williamsburg colonial newspaper, The Virginia Gazette. Orphaned at the age of three, Rind grew up in the households of Attorney General Edmund Randolph (1753-1813) and St. George Tucker (1752-1827), where he learned the legal profession. In addition to his law practice, Rind wrote political essays for Richmond’s Federalist newspapers and edited two compilations of Virginia laws published in 1792 and 1801. His most famous court case involved a successful defense of several enslaved men who had been arrested and tried as part of “Gabriel’s Rebellion.” In 1800, during the heated political exchanges of the day, Rind, a Federalist, was challenged to a duel by Meriwether Jones, a Jeffersonian. Rind suffered a bullet to the abdomen which, according to family tradition, contributed to his early death in 1803.

ARTIST: The Payne Limner is an unidentified artist who worked in Richmond and the surrounding counties of Henrico, Hanover, and Goochland in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. With the addition of the five Seabrook family portraits, approximately 18 of his works are now known. His identity derives from the ten surviving portraits of the Payne family, which were completed in Goochland County around 1791. None of these works bears a signature or date, and the attributions are based on the strong stylistic similarities among the various portraits. Many of them display a knowledge of 18th-century British conventions with the inclusion of personal attirbutes for each sitter, such as animals, flowers for girls, and hunting equipment for boys. Ship captain Nicholas Brown Seabrook was painted holding a telescope and pointing to a chart with a ship in the background, while planter Archer Payne was depicted standing beside a plow with a large sheaf of wheat immediately behind him. His triple portrait of two Payne brothers with their nurse is one of the few 18th-century American portraits with the full length image of an enslaved African American person. The Payne Limner’s portraits provide an excellent window into the life and society of late 18th-century Virginia.

Examples of the Payne Limner’s works can be seen in the collections of Colonial Williamsburg, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, the Virginia Museum of Culture and History, the James Madison Museum, and MESDA.

DESCRIPTION: Painting, oil on canvas, full-length portrait of a young girl of approximatley seven years of age wearing a white gown with a lace collar, a red sash tied in a bow over her left shoulder and around her wast, a small bouquet of flowers in her hair, a double strand of pearls, an artificial red and white silk flower at her bodice, holding a gold watch in her hands.

The five Seabrook portraits remained in the family for six generations, first in Virginia and then with descendants in New Jersey. They descended from Captain Nicholas Brown Seabrook (1739-1790) to his son John Seabrook (1768-1844), to his son Nicholas Brown Seabrook (1799-1866), to his daughter Mary Gordon (Seabrook) Studdiford (1845-after 1930), to her son Douglas Seabrook Studdiford (1880-1971). They were consignd by the last family owner as a group to Nye and Company Auctioneers in New Jersey in January 2017.
Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund