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Joseph Steward (1753 - 1822)

Lot 101: Attributed to Joseph Steward


February 23, 2003
Bolton, MA, US

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(Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, 1753-1822 Portrait of Sarah Chaplin Howard, 1788-1790, Hampton, Connecticut, Unsigned. Oil on canvas, the three-quarter view of a young woman seated in a chair in front of a window revealing a landscape framed by a tasseled and fringed drape. She wears an elaborated gauze cap with looped ribbons and pale pink flowers covering her shoulder-length tresses which fall to the gauze shawl on her open low-waisted pink silk dress with three-quarter length sleeves, floral trim, and open skirt. She holds the arm of her baby son, James Howard, Jr., who grasps a yellow ball in his left hand; on her other side is a table with books and fruit, 36 x 30 1/2 in., in a replaced gold painted frame. Condition: Good, minor retouch, lined, varnished. Provenance: Sarah Howard (1761-1847) was the daughter of Benjamin Chaplin, founder of Chaplin, Connecticut. This portrait was commissioned by her husband, James, three years after they were married. James Howard Jr., the first of their six children, sits on her lap. He graduated from Yale in the class of 1806 and subsequently served in the state legislature. Exhibit history: This portrait and that of James Howard, her husband, were included in an exhibit entitled "Connecticut~dq~s Quiet Corner Collects" at the William Benton Museum of Art at the University of Connecticut in 1989. Note: Joseph Steward, who was born in Upton, Massachusetts, attended Dartmouth College, graduating in 1780. Subsequently, he painted in New Haven and then studied for the ministry in Preston, Connecticut. After a short time in Newport he moved to Hampton, Connecticut in 1788, where he served as an interim pastor for Reverend Samuel Moseley and also began his portrait painting career. Around 1791, Steward crossed paths with the important Connecticut portrait painter Ralph Earl. Steward~dq~s portraits of the Wheelocks of Dartmouth College as well as these Howard portraits show Earl~dq~s influence as they include interiors, windowed landscapes, and more highly developed modeling and handling of textures. Attributed to John Brewster, Jr., Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, (1766-1854) Portrait of James Howard, c. 1800. Unsigned. Oil on canvas, the half-length portrait depicts him seated in a chair, one arm resting on paper on a table which also holds an inkwell with pen, in front of a scene and drapery, 35 1/2 x 30 1/4 in., in a replaced gold painted frame. Condition: Re-lined, craquelure, some restoration. Provenance: James Howard of Hampton, Connecticut, was a partner in a stagecoach line which ran from Providence, Rhode Island, to Middletown, Connecticut; as well as owner of several mills on the Little River, which is pictured in lot 105. In addition, he farmed and was a money lender. According to Hampton~dq~s town records, James Howard was a patriot who served on constitutional committees. He died in 1811 in Hampton, Connecticut. These portraits descended in the family, from whom they were purchased in Abington, Connecticut, in 1975. That purchaser is the consignor. Note: John Brewster, Jr. was born in 1766 in Hampton, Connecticut, the home of the sitters. His talent for painting was fostered through studies with Reverend Joseph Steward (1753-1822), who was a skilled portrait painter and the artist who painted James Howard~dq~s wife, Sarah. Joseph Steward moved to Hampton, Connecticut in 1788, the year he began his full-time career as a portrait painter. James Howard~dq~s pose, direct gaze, and serene expression as well as minimal facial modeling are typical of John Brewster~dq~s work. The following Howard materials accompany this lot: A daguerreotype in an embossed leather case picturing these two portraits, and a small leather-bound Holy Bible printed in Concord, New Hampshire, 1836, inscribed "Sarah C. Howard presented by her mother." Also included is the 1811 household inventory of James Howard, mill owner and patriot from Hampton, Connecticut.

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