Antique Portrait Miniature by American Deaf Artist John Brewster, Jr.
  • I’m always excited when I can offer you a piece of art by a great artist and John Brewster, Jr. (1766-1854) is certainly high in the list of great American folk artists of the Early Republic. I’ve just completed a short bio on him on the Folk Portrait Artists page so please follow the link at the bottom of this listing for more information about this deaf-mute artist whose work has been labeled by art historians as masterpieces of American art. Brewster is known for the great expressiveness with which he portrayed his subjects with particular emphasis on serene expressions, clearly delineated features and delicate flesh tones.

    The eyes of all of Brewster’s sitters seek the viewer with a soulful peace. This attributed portrait miniature of a mature gentleman well-depicts Brewster’s painting style. I love the way that Brewster has depicted the age lines in the man’s face with great dignity and clarity—no airbrushing here but who needs camouflage since the maturity of the gent is stunning! His large brown eyes seem to depart his wisdom to the viewer. I love Brewster’s depiction of individual strands of darker grey hair over whiter hair which adds dimension to the piece. The modeling of facial features with the cool skin tones is marvelous. His black jacket has a high shawl-type collar that frames his face. His black waistcoat comes up to just below his black stock. The grey-blue background is painted with cross-hatching.

    The portrait miniature is in what appears to be the original red leather, hinged traveling case with green silk lining and a green velvet surround. The glass is slightly convex. The case is in good condition with slight water stain on the back of the case). The condition of the portrait miniature is good with a slight warp to the natural substrate (which you will not notice in the case) and a small vertical crack to the substrate in the upper right corner that is about 1/8 long. I’ve pointed it out in one of the photos with an arrow. The crack is very minor, hard to see, and with a portrait of this quality and by this artist, it is a minor, minor apology. You can also see in the photos that there are a few minor specks of paint loss on his jacket--again, very hard to see. Remember that the photo you are looking at is larger than the actual portrait. This is an exceptional find at a reasonable price that puts it into the reach of collectors who may never be able to afford the work of this important artist. Leather case measures 2 7/8” x 3 3/8”. Circa 1810.

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    Please see the Folk Portrait Artists page for more information about John Brewster, Jr.