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    J. Purwill, Original portrait of Stephen F. Austin, oil on canvas, 25" x 31", c. 1823. This recently unearthed portrait of a young Stephen F. Austin appears on the cover of Dr. Greg Cantrell's seminal biography, Stephen F. Austin, Empresario of Texas (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999). Learning that Cantrell was working on the Austin biography, the seller of this portrait called Cantrell in 1997. Cantrell says that the owner had acquired it from a bank in Corsicana, which the seller described as an old local bank there, built in the 1920s. "It was the tallest building between Houston and Dallas. It was magnificent," Cantrell says. When the bank founders built their financial colossus, they shopped for furniture and appointments in St. Louis, Mo., which is when they purchased the portrait, a detail that Cantrell says is completely consistent with where a portrait of Austin would have surfaced. Cantrell says that his attribution is based on investigative work where a number of story elements about the painting's acquisition and details about the portrait align. "It's like matching partial fingerprints," Cantrell says. "I remain convinced that it's Stephen F. Austin. There are too many specific facial characteristics of him that were unique to Stephen F. Austin - from his hazel eyes to the shape of his nose. The list goes on and on." It's one of the handsomest paintings of him that would've existed," says Cantrell. "It would show him as a young adult. Most of the other images we have of him are from later in his life." The owner of this portrait, J. P. Bryan, a descendant of the Austin family, concurs with Cantrell. "There's no question in my mind that this is a young Stephen F. Austin, and it's the earliest depiction of Austin that we have." Courtesy of J.P. Bryan, Houston. Consigned Lot.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2006
    4th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,251

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