Woody Internship: Colonial Williamsburg Week 6

Some of the projects that I worked on were objects that had been in the collection for a number of years, but I was looking to see if any more information could be found with the help of technology. One such project that I worked on was a portrait of Patrick Henry. We believed the portrait to be a copy of a miniature done by artist Lawrence Sully. After reading the portrait file, I found a reference to a book that documented portraits of famous Americans. An engraving of Patrick Henry was in the book along with information referencing the engraving as a copy of drawing which was a copy of the Sully miniature. In short, our portrait was a fourth generation copy and we still did not know the artist. The portrait was sold to Colonial Williamsburg by the daughter of Kentucky artist, Oliver Frazer. However, Frazer is not believed to be the artist of this portrait due to stylistic differences. Frazer had an uncle named Robert, who was a popular jeweler in the Lexington, Kentucky area. Colonial Williamsburg has a watch in the collection that contains a watch paper with R. Frazer’s advertisement in it. In conclusion, I believe that an artist possibly training under Oliver Frazer had access to the book containing the engraving at the University of Transylvania, saw the engraving and tried to replicate it. The exact artist may never be known, but this information brings us much closer to discovering the portraits origins. I was able to present all of this information as a research discovery at one of the curatorial accessions meetings.

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