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Inscription

lower center reverse: Fr. Alexander Pinxet 1835

Provenance

Samuel Parkman Sturgis [1803-1877], brother of the sitter, Canton, China; his brother, James Sturgis [1822-1888], Boston; his son, Charles Wilkins Sturgis [1849-1913], Boston. (Rose M. de Forest [Mrs. Augustus F. de Forest], New York); purchased 10 October 1921 by Thomas B. Clarke [1848 1931], New York;[1] his estate; sold as part of the Clarke collection on 29 January 1936, through (M. Knoedler & Co., New York), to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1947 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1921
Exhibition of Paintings by Early American Portrait Painters, The Union League Club, New York, November 1921, no. 13.
1926
A Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Early American Portrait Painters, The Century Association, New York, 1926, no. 7.
1928
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 Sarah Blake Sturgis.
Bibliography
1914
Sturgis, Roger Faxton, ed. Edward Sturgis and His Dependants. Boston, 1914.
1928
Portraits by Early American Artists of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Collected by Thomas B. Clarke. Exh. cat. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1928, unnumbered, as Sarah Blake Sturgis.
1953
Pierce, Catharine W. "Francis Alexander." Old-Time New England 44 (October-December) 1953: 44.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 10, repro.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 20, repro.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 20, repro.
1996
Kelly, Franklin, with Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., Deborah Chotner, and John Davis. American Paintings of the Nineteenth Century, Part I. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1996: 4-6, repro.
Technical Summary

The painting is unlined but has a new stretcher, slightly larger than the original. The primary support is a plain-weave, medium-weight fabric. Over a thin, off-white ground layer, the paint was thinly applied with fluid brushstrokes. There are a few areas of impasto in the highlights and the veil. X-radiography suggests that an oval format may have originally been intended. Without further analysis it cannot be determined whether the change to a rectangular format was made by the artist or at a later date. The background shows small, darkened areas of inpainting as well as one large inpainted area at the right ear. The varnish is discolored.