New York City, NY
Beginning in the 18th-century, New York City’s well-to-do denizens commissioned paintings of themselves and their loved ones to display in their homes as indicators of prestige. Portraits were often created to commemorate a significant moment in the sitter’s life—a marriage, acquiring an inheritance, or assuming an important position—and they offered an opportunity for the subject to present a carefully crafted image to the world.
Drawn from the permanent collection of the Museum, Picturing Prestige: New York Portraits, 1700-1860, features works by many of the leading American painters of their day and captures the aspirations of the rising, upstart merchant city as it became the most populous and the most important port in the young country.
In addition, the exhibition chronicles the changing nature of portraiture and artistic patronage, and ties together the lives of a group of leading citizens who enjoyed financial and social benefits that were beyond the reach of most New Yorkers.
Whether you go or not, Faces of a New Nation: American Portraits of the 18th and Early 19th Centuries, from the Summer, 2003 Metropolitan Museum of art Bulletin, this 56-page publication includes artists ranging from Gilbert Stuart and Pieter Vanderlyn to John Singleton Copley, Charles Wilson Peale, and John Trumbull.