Sully, Lawrence - portrait of a man

Another unsigned miniature portrait, but this one has been attributed to Lawrence Sully (1769-1804). He was born in Ireland, but emigrated to the United States, probably around 1790. Not being a talented miniature painter, Sully had to move around looking for clients, but did spend quite a lot of time in Richmond, Va.

As mentioned by Dale Johnson, "Sully's miniatures rarely arise above the level of the primitive.... Pale skin tones and light-colored backgrounds make for a blond tonality overall."

The reason for the attribution is largely by comparison with the portrait of Abraham Alexander by Lawrence Sully, which is illustrated in the book "Miniatures and Silhouettes of Early American Jews" by Hannah R London.

The portrait shown here is not at all well painted, but if the attribution is correct it does provide a reference point for Sully's work. As there is a lack of detail and the reverse has a central blank space, it may well be that this miniature was never completed.

The frame is a little unusual. As can be seen here, the reverse has a small opening which is filled by a smaller ivory plaque with a wreath type decoration around the edge. Johnson comments that William and George Richardson who were silversmiths in Richmond, probably made the miniature cases for Sully. Thus, this case may well be their work.

The sitter is unknown. 967

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