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.
1760 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs Middleton.
1763 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Rebecca Holdsworth and grandaughter Rebecca Woodward.
1764 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Elizabeth Galloway (Mrs Thomas Sprigg).
1764 John Hesselius (1728-1778). Mrs. Richard Galloway.