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Inscription

falsely inscribed, reverse in ink: Govr.Ri. / Bellingham Effiegies [sic] / Delind Boston Anno Dom. 1641 / Aetatis 49 W.R.

Provenance

(Rose M. [Mrs. Augustus] de Forest, New York); sold 29 December 1924 to Thomas B. Clarke [1848-1931], New York, as a portrait of Richard Bellingham by William Read;[1] sold by Clarke's executors through (M. Knoedler & Co., New York), 29 January 1936, as part of the Clarke collection, by The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift to NGA, 1947.

Exhibition History
1925
A Loan Exhibition of the Earliest Known Portraits of Americans Painted in This County by Painters of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, The Century Association, New York, 1925, no. 6, as Richard Bellingham by William Read.
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 Richard Bellingham by William Read.
Bibliography
1932
Sherman, Frederic Fairchild. Early American Painting. New York and London, 1932: 6-8, pl. 1.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 172, repro., as by European of Unknown Nationality.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 308, as by Unknown [Formerly Considered American].
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 407, repro., as by Unknown Nationality 17th Century.
1992
Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 291-292, repro. 292.
Technical Summary

The medium-weight canvas is coarsely plain woven; although it has not been lined, none of the tacking margins survives intact and an old canvas strip lining, covering about a quarter of an inch of each edge, is attached to the face of the painting. The ground is reddish brown. A dark gray to black imprimatura is applied locally under the head as a basis for the flesh tones. The painting is executed thinly with some low impasto in the highlights, in broad, primitive brush-strokes. The paint surface is severely abraded and extensively retouched throughout; there are large losses in the forehead. The natural resin varnish has discolored yellow to a significant degree.