"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Samuel Griffin

This 1770 portrait of Samuel Griffin (1746-1810) by Cosmo Alexander hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
"Samuel Griffin, born into a prominent Virginia family, studied law and was admitted to the bar in Virginia. In 1770, when Scottish portraitist Cosmo Alexander was painting in Williamsburg, Griffin sat for this portrait. During the Revolutionary War, he was a colonel and served as aide-de-camp to General Charles Lee. A Federalist, he represented Williamsburg in the Virginia Assembly (1786-88) before representing Virginia in the First Federal Congress in 1789. He was reelected twice more before declining to run again in 1796, when James Madison's Republican policies gained predominance in his district." -- National Portrait Gallery
When this painting came to the NPG in 1999 is was believed to be a portrait of Samuel Griffin's older brother Cyrus Giffin (1748-1810), the last president of Congress under the Confederation. But Cyrus Griffin had blue eyes and the subject of this portrait has brown eyes. Using a miniature, the gallery managed to confirm that this is Samuel Griffin. See: Unraveling a Mistaken Identity by Margaret C.S. Christman.

No comments:

Post a Comment