Staigg, Richard Morrell - portrait of Colonel William Parsons Winchester
This unsigned miniature portrait of Colonel William Winchester has been attributed to Richard Morrell Staigg (1817-1881). Staigg was born in Leeds, England and arrived in the United States in 1831. He lived in Boston between 1841 and 1852 when this portrait was painted. While there he was in demand by a distinguished clientele. One of his best known works is a miniature of Daniel Webster.
In discussing Staigg's work, Johnson comments "Staigg's mature palette is a medley of luminous pastel hues for the flesh and rich, deep tones in the clothing and background. His miniatures have the richness of small oil paintings."
The sitter, Colonel William Parsons Winchester (9 Nov 1801 - 6 Aug 1850) was born in Boston and was the son of a wealthy merchant Edmund Winchester. In the 1850 census William was living in Boston with his wife Eliza aged 46 and his children Emily aged 17, Ellen 15, Thomas Bradlee 13, and six servants, including two waiters and two coachmen. Colonel William P Winchester disclosed real estate assets of $48,500, but some sources suggest his total worth was upwards of $500,000 and he was one of the wealthiest men in Boston. Unfortunately, he died of typhoid shortly after the census was taken.
He was a third cousin of Oliver Winchester (1810-1880) who manufactured and marketed the Winchester repeating rifle. There is much more about Colonel William Winchester at Town of Winchester
Colonel Winchester agreed that his name could be used for the town now known as Winchester, Massachusetts and in recognition of this he donated $3000 to the town for the erection of a civic building or other municipal use. However, his premature death meant he never visited the town.
Winchester town records note that in 1900 his son, Thomas Bradlee Winchester gifted to the town a posthumous oil portrait of his father, painted by Albert Gallatin Hoyt (1809-1856).
At the time of the gift in 1900, the oil portrait was said to have been painted from memory, presumably because the existence of this miniature had been forgotten and the artist himself had died many years previously. However, it seems much more likely the miniature was painted from life and later became the source for the large oil portrait, which can be seen can be seen here by very kind permission of the Trustees who own the oil portrait.
As can be seen there is little doubt they both are of the same person. The oil is also displayed at the town website http://www.winchester.us/communityconnection/townname.html
One interesting point in comparing these two portraits, is that without separate visual cues, it is not possible to tell their relative sizes. The pupil to pupil distance on the miniature is approximately 1cm and for the oil it is estimated to be 6.5cm.
There are precedents for miniature portraits being used as sources for posthumous oil portraits. Another example is the two portraits of Christopher Colombus Baldwin (1800-1835) held by the American Antiquarian Society. The first is a miniature painted by Sarah Goodridge in 1835 which was later used as the source for the second, a large oil portrait commissioned by the Society from Chester Harding in 1836, the year following Baldwin's death. (For these portraits see "Portraits in the Collection of the American Antiquarian Society" by Lauren B Hewes.) 1199
Posted by Don Shelton at 1:11 PM