Overview

Patrick Tracy demonstrates a colonial American rapidly absorbing the British "Grand Manner." The subject, a Massachusetts warehouse owner, appropriately rests his hand on an anchor and stands on a shell-strewn beach before crates and barrels. His hoary features reveal his seventy-some years, but his delicate fingers and slender calves apparently belong to a much younger man. In the colonies, John Singleton Copley had encouraged Trumbull in painting, and the face's sharp realism is an homage to Copley's American frankness. The body, however, adheres to the flattering canons for harmonized proportions that were advocated by Sir Joshua Reynolds, president of the Royal Academy.

Trumbull's account book for 1784 resolves the dilemma: "Whole length of Mr. P. Tracy (father of Nat) leaning on an anchor -- head copied." Nat Tracy, the subject's son, apparently commissioned the portrait while in London on business. Since Patrick was still in America, Trumbull adapted his face from a likeness which Nat must have lent him, but did the rest in his new style.

While working on this life-size portrait, Trumbull received an unprecedented honor from Benjamin West. West, who had intended to paint a vast series of scenes illustrating the characters and events of the War of Independence, decided he was too busy and passed the idea along to his pupil. The resulting history paintings culminated in Trumbull's world-famous murals in the Capitol's Rotunda.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Probably bequeathed by the sitter to his daughter, Hannah Tracy Jackson [Mrs. Jonathan Jackson, 1755-1797], Newburyport, Massachusetts;[1] her son, Patrick Tracy Jackson [1780-1847], Boston;[2] Patrick Tracy Jackson, Jr. [1813-1891], Boston and Pride's Crossing, Massachusetts; Patrick Tracy Jackson III [1844-1918], Cambridge and Pride's Crossing, Massachusetts; Patrick Tracy Jackson IV [1871-1959], Boston and Boothbay, Maine; Patrick Tracy Jackson V [b. 1906], Boothbay Harbor, Maine;[3] gift 1964 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1828
Second Exhibition of Paintings in the Athenaeum Gallery, Boston Atheneum, 1828, no. 4, as by John Singleton Copley.
1880
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1880-1886, attributed to Copley.
1910
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1910-1911, as by an unknown artist.
1952
On loan to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1952-1964.
1980
La Pintura de Los Estados Unidos de Museos de la Ciudad de Washington, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 1980-1981, no. 4, color repro.
1982
John Trumbull: The Hand and Spirit of a Painter, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 1982-1983, no. 39.

Bibliography

1828
Second Exhibition of Paintings in the Athenaeum Gallery, Exh. cat. Boston Atheneum, 1828: no. 4, as by John Singleton Copley. [See Perkins and Gavin 1980, 39.]
1867
Tuckerman, Henry T. Book of the Artists. New York, 1867: 73.
1878
Perkins, Augustus T. "Notes on Blackburn and Smibert." Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings 16 (December 1878): 391.
1880
Museum of Fine Arts, Fifteenth Catalogue of the Collection of Ancient and Modern Works of Art given or lent to the Trustees. Boston, 1880: part 2, 22, no. 266.
1886
Museum of Fine Arts, Catalogue of Works of Art Exhibited on the Second Floor. Boston, 1886, 37, no. 404, as by Copley.
1896
Currier, John J. Ould Newbury. Boston, 1896: 547, repro. 546.
1906
Putnam, James Jackson. A Memoir of Dr. James Jackson. Boston and New York, 1906: x, repro. opp. 68.
1921
Lee, Thomas Amory. "The Tracy Family of Newburyport." Essex Institute Historical Collections 57 (January 1921)L 58.
1948
Sizer, Theodore. "An Early Check-List of the Paintings of John Trumbull." Yale University Gazette 22 (April 1948): 121, no. 15.
1949
Sizer, Theodore. "A Tenative `Short-Title' Check-List of the Works of Colonel John Trumbull. Part III," The Art Bulletin 31 (March 1949): 27, fig. 5.
1950
Sizer, Theodore. The Works of Colonel Trumbull. New Haven, 1950: 54, fig. 12; Rev. ed. 1967: 71.
1956
Sizer, Theodore. "Colonel John Trumbull's Works: A Final Report." The Art Bulletin 38, no. 2 (June 1956): 116.
1967
Sizer, Theodore. The Works of Colonel John Trumbull. Rev. ed. New Haven and London, 1967: 71.
1970
American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 116, repro.
1980
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 250, repro.
1980
La Pintura de Los Estados Unidos de Museos de la Ciudad de Washington. Exh. cat. Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 1980-1981: no. 4.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 10, 54, repro.
1982
Cooper, Helen A., ed. John Trumbull: The Hand and Spirit of a Painter. Exh. cat. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 1982: 99, 100 (fig. 53, color), 116.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 392, no. 559, color repro.
1988
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 62, repro.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 368, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 216, repro.
1995
Miles, Ellen G. American Paintings of the Eighteenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1995: 299-303, color repro. 301.

Technical Summary

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