Lot 801: Robert John Curtis (American/Charleston)
December 4, 2016
New Orleans, LA, USALive Auction
Description: Robert John Curtis (American/Charleston, 1816-1877), "Portrait of William J. Gerald (1811-1874)", oil on canvas, pencil-signed "R.J. Curtis of Charleston SC", sitter identified and inscribed "Intendant of the town of Camden S.C. from April 1866 to April 1868" and "Newman Galleries, Philadelphia" labels en verso, 30 in. x 25 in., framed. Provenance: Descended in the family of the sitter. Note: Robert J. Curtis, known for his portraiture in Charleston and the surrounding areas, was trained in Philadelphia under John Neagle (1796-1865). In the early 1830s, Curtis began advertising in the Charleston Courier and by the late 1830s had received critical acclaim from the same publication. His 1838 portrait of the Seminole Indian Osceola was widely praised and reproduced in lithograph form by William Keenan (b. 1810). William J. Gerald, a merchant in Camden, SC, married Eliza Jane Clarkson in 1833; the couple had nine children. After his wifes death and the end of the Civil War, Gerald acted as Intendant (a past term for mayor) of Camden for two years following his efforts, along with residents of Augusta, GA, and Newberry, SC, to provide goods for the citizens of Columbia, SC. The city of Columbia had been looted and burned by some of General Shermans troops in the aftermath of the war. Ref.: Charleston Courier. Charleston, SC. Feb. 21 and Apr. 26, 1838; The Daily Phoenix. Columbia, SC. Apr. 22, 1865.