probably falsely signed and dated, center left: J. Hesselius Pincx/ 1768
(Rose M. [Mrs. Augustus] de Forest, New York); sold 2 September 1926 to Thomas B. Clarke [1848-1931], New York, as a portrait of Thomas Johnson by John Hesselius; sold by Clarke's executors to (M. Knoedler & Co., New York), from whom it was purchased 29 January 1936, as part of the Clarke collection, by The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift to NGA, 1947.
- A Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Early American Portrait Painters, The Century Association, New York, 1926, no. 5, as Thomas Johnson by John Hesselius.
- Portraits by Early American Artists of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Collected by Thomas B. Clarke, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1928-1931, unnumbered and unpaginated catalogue, as Thomas Johnson by John Hesselius.
- Extended loan for use by The Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1948-1992.
- Extended loan for use in Chief Justice Rehnquist's chambers, 1986-1992.
- Sherman, Frederic Fairchild. Early American Painting. New York and London, 1932: 36, pl. 17.
- Doud, Richard Keith. John Hesseliou: His Life and Work. M.A. thesis, University of Delaware, 1963: 57-58, 104 (no. 34), pl. 12.
- American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 158, repro., as Portrait of a Man by American (?).
- American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 308, as Portrait of a Man by Unknown [Formerly Considered American].
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 408, repro., as Portrait of a Man by Unknown Nationality 18th Century.
- Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 315-316, repro. 316.
The medium-weight canvas is coarsely plain woven; it has been lined. The ground is light gray, and is used as the middle tone in the shadows of the face. The painting is executed in thin layers which range from translucent glazes to slightly opaque paint, without impasto, in the highlights and background. The paint surface is severely abraded in the background, which has been repainted in several areas. There is considerable retouching in the right shoulder and the hair on the sitter's right side, and numerous flake losses throughout have been heavily overpainted. The contours of the coat have been reinforced. The natural resin varnish has discolored yellow to a moderate degree.