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    Alexander Hamilton: Important Sharples Pastel Portrait. 7.25" x 9.25" pastel portrait of Alexander Hamilton housed in a period frame with gold wood mat or liner. Although unsigned, the work is typical of James Sharples, Sr. (1751-1811), the famous English portrait painter and pastelist. Sharples and his family moved to America around 1794 and returned to England in 1801. They spent half their time in Philadelphia and half in New York. Sharples was already well-known, having exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1779. Upon their arrival in the U.S., they advertised their willingness to produce profile portraits of local and national politicians. Sharples often used a physiognotrace device to record an exact profile which he retained as an aid in the production of the initial portrait as well as copies. Like Gilbert Stuart and Rembrandt Peale, Sharples was known primarily for his portraits of George Washington. Like them, he made copies of prior, commissioned works. The auction record for Sharples is $141,200 for a Washington portrait; however, other examples have sold in the $30,000 range. Sharples typically charged $15 per profile and $25 for a full-face view. Both his wife Ellen and three of his children were accomplished artists and were part of the family enterprise. Since their portraits are unsigned, it is often hard to distinguish between them and identify the artist. Given the fact that his children "came on board" after the family's return to England in 1801 (Felix and James, Jr. returning to America in 1806), coupled with Hamilton's death in 1804, it seems highly likely that this portrait was made in the 1794-1801 period by the scion of the clan, James Sharples, Sr. Regarding provenance, the portrait was acquired by the consignor's parents from noted antique dealer Jess Pavey. The couple actively collected quality Americana in the 1950's and 1960's. This very piece was exhibited at the Detroit Museum of Arts and the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. The parents' collection was eventually sold to Philip Caldwell, the first non-Ford CEO of the Ford Motor Company (d. 2013). This piece, though, was retained. Sharples was an admirer of Hamilton and he or members of his family are known to be executed 7 or 8 portraits of him. The New York Historical Society owns a smaller, less accomplished, version signed by son Felix. The size of this pastel conforms to the format preferred by Sharples, Sr.
    Condition report:
    Examined outside the frame. Pastel measures 9 3/8" high x 7 3/8" wide. All edges are slightly chipped with some demarcation to the medium from the frame rubbing; not visible inside the frame. No signs of previous repair. There is a minuscule pin hole ¼" behind the subject's head at the nape of his neck. A 3/8"central vertical tear in the top edge. Some very mild scuffing in the background; mostly in the lower left corner and in both upper quadrants. Paper is brittle but does not exhibit any foxing or signs of mildew or insect invasion. All issues noted are commensurate with age.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2013
    23rd-24th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,593

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