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John (1766) Brewster (1766 - 1854)

Lot 159: JOHN BREWSTER JR. (1766-1854)


January 20, 2007
New York, NY, US

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18 by 15 in.

alternate measurements
45.7 by 38.1 cm

circa 1819

a fine and rare pair of portraits of a young girl and her younger brother, probably done between 1800 and 1810.

The young girl in a pale dress edged with a lace collar, holding a rose. Her younger brother about age three or four wearing what appears to be a soft brown suit, also edged in a lace collar. He is holding a red book.

Both paintings remain in their original walnut veneered frames. A label on the reverse of the frames reads "L.E. Gregory", Oyster Bay, New York 1959. The backing on each painting states, "Brunswick Maine Region."

oil on canvas


Christie's, New York, October 1986
Eddy Nicholson, Hampton Falls, New Hampshire
Marguerite Riordan, Stonington, Connecticut, October 1989


Brewster was a gifted painter of children, evidenced by his ethereal and serene early full-length portraits of Francis O. Watts and an unidentified child with one shoe off (1805 and 1807, respectively; Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, N.Y.). Brewster's half-length portraits of children, many of which date to the 1820s, feature bolder molding of facial features and a darker palette. The young sitters' faces still project an air of innocence and engage the viewer with their large eyes and direct gazes. The artist's half-length format, moreover, draws the viewer closer to the subject to create a more intimate portrait. This unidentified pair of portraits is similar in format to Brewster's portrait of Henry Sayward (1824, private collection. See The World of John Brewster, Jr. [Cooperstown, N.Y.: Fenimore Art Museum, 2005], plate 38) and likely dates to about the same time. Brewster was particularly active in Thomaston, Alfred, and Brunswick, Maine during this period.

Paul S. D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.
Vice President and Chief Curator
Fenimore Art Museum
Cooperstown, New York

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