J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Little Portrait from a Little Brother

After John Singleton Copley’s portrait-painting career took off in the early 1770s, he stopped painting so many miniatures. His younger half-brother Henry Pelham took on that task.

Skinner Auctioneers just sold one of the miniatures that Pelham made from his older brother’s full-sized work, showing merchant Adam Babcock (1740-1817, at left). Babcock was the son of Joshua Babcock, a Rhode Island physician, Chief Judge, and Assembly Speaker [hey, the place was even smaller then]. The elder Babcock went on to sign the state’s declaration of independence from Britain, issued two months before the Continental Congress’s Declaration of Independence.

The auction house says Adam Babcock was from Boston, and indeed he died there, but at the time of those portraits he was based in New Haven, Connecticut. He was the plaintiff in a long lawsuit over a 13s. pair of leather breeches, described starting here.

The auctioneer notes that the gold case of this miniature looks just like one from Paul Revere’s workshop, which is interesting given the big argument Pelham and Revere had in early 1770.

TOMORROW: Sniffing out more Pelham miniatures.

3 comments:

Daud said...

This topic makes me think of this (though it's not by him)

http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/henry-pelham-or-jonathan-clarke-32780

J. L. Bell said...

That’s gonna come up tomorrow!

J. L. Bell said...

This posting’s remarks about Joshua Babcock corrected with help from a Boston 1775 reader.