Sunday, March 9, 2014

American Artist John Hesselius 1728-1778

In colonial Philadelphia, Swedish painter Gustavus Hesselius (1682-1755) had a son John in 1728, who lived and worked in Pennsylvania, Maryland, & Virginia for 50 years. Gustavus taught his son John Hesselius (1728-1778) to paint; but their styles were different, & his more colorful son was quite successful securing commissions to paint flattering portraits of gentry women & their children.

1760 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs. Richard Brown

In addition to the instruction from his father, John Hesselius probably was influenced by the work of the elegant Robert Feke (1707-1751) in Philadelphia as well. Later John moved to Maryland, where he came in contact with the rococo work of Englishman John Wollaston (1710-1775), who seemed to have an additional affect on his painting style.

1760s John Hesselius (1728-1778). Jean Dick (Mrs. Anthony Stewart)

When John Hesselius turned 35 in 1763, he courted & married a well-to-do, young widow, Mary Woodward, daughter of wealthy Colonel Richard Young, in Annapolis, Maryland. He spent the remaining years of his life as a leisurely country gentleman on her estate "Bellefield," meeting the local gentry a& gaining many lucrative commissions in both Maryland and Virginia. In Annapolis, he also met & became Charles Willson Peale's (1741-1827) first painting instructor. Charles Willson Peale would have no trouble attracting women to sit for his portraits, and neither would John Hesselius.

My favorite John Hesselius painting is not a portrait of a woman, but a painting of a family playing out in a garden.

1751 John Hesselius (1728-1778). The Grymes Children- Lucy Ludwell Grymes 1743-1830, Philip Ludwell Grymes 1746-1805, John Randolph Grymes 1747-96, & Charles Grimes 1748-?  They were the children of Phillip Grymes and his wife Mary Randolph who were born at "Brandon" on the Rappahannock River in Middlesex County, Virginia. In the year following this painting, another daughter, Susanna Grymes was born into the family.

1750 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Millicent Conway Gordon.

1757 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs. Matthew Tiglman Anna Lloyd & dau Anna Maria.

1760 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs. William Carmichael.

1760 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Anna Dorthea Finney 1735-1817.

John Hesselius (1728-1778). Eleanor Addison

1760 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs Middleton.

1762 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Elizabeth Chew Smith

1763 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Rebecca Holdsworth and grandaughter Rebecca Woodward.

1764 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Ann Bond (Mrs. Edward Fell). Detail Maryland Historical Society

1764 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Elizabeth Galloway (Mrs Thomas Sprigg).

1764 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs. Richard Galloway.

1765 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Margaret Tilghman Carroll Mrs Charles Carroll the Barrister.

1765 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Sarah Taliaferro (Mrs. William Dainerfield).

1770 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Portrait of Susannah Rose Lawson (Mrs. Gavin Lawson)(1749-1825)

1771 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Ann Fitzhugh Rose.

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