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Pendant Miniature Portrait of Silas Deane
1774-1776
Subject:Portrait of Silas Deane , American, 1737 - 1789
Painter:Attributed to Charles Willson Peale , American, 1741 - 1827
Metalworker:Pendant made by Unknown
Watercolor on ivory, in gold-plated pendant with a glass front
Primary Dimensions (height x width x depth): 2 3/8 x 1 5/8 x 5/16in. (6 x 4.1 x 0.8cm)
Credit Line: Museum purchase.
Gallery Copy: Silas Deane was born 24 December 1737 in Groton, Connecticut. He was actively involved in the movements in Connecticut that preceded the Revolutionary War and was a Connecticut delegate to the Continental Congress. He was regularly accredited commissioners to France from Congress, but in 1777, he was infamously recalled by Congress to face charges of misappropriation of government funds. After stating his case to Congress, he returned to Paris in 1781 to settle his affairs. In 1789, after squandering his fortune in an effort to clear his name, Silas Deane died on 23 September 1789 aboard ship in Deal Harbor. No evidence of Deane's dishonesty was ever discovered, and in 1842, the United States Congress recognized the validity of his claim of innocence by voting a payment of $37,000 to his heirs. The miniature portrait is attributed to Charles Wilson Peale, a famous Philadelphia portrait artist.
Description: Miniature bust-length portrait of a man facing to the viewer's right, inside a gold-plated oval pendant. The man wears a white wig, a red jacket, a white lace collar, and a white waistcoat with orange buttons and blue trim. The background of the portrait is in shades of medium to dark blue. The oval pendant is glass fronted, to display the portrait. It has a flat edge around the glass front, within an engraved beveled edge. The top of the pendant has a loop of metal; two gold rings are attached to that loop, for hanging the pendant on a chain. The back of the pendant is engraved, "Mrs. Wm. C. Alden/ Boston".
Historical Note: Mrs. William C. Alden, whose name is on the pendant miniature portrait, was the wife of Silas Deane's great grandson. According to letters in the object file (see Text Entries), the Alden's put this pendant up as collateral for a loan of $25 from R. S. Ely on 29 January 1879. A note written by Ely indicates that he added another $25 on February 1, but that he did receive two checks drawn on the Second National Bank in repayment of the loan. (Hudson 4/6/2007) Artist Note: According to museum records, the attribution to Charles Willson Peale was made by Charles Coleman Sellers, a leading authority on Peale. (Hudson 4/6/2007) Historical Note: In the late nineteenth century, this portrait of Silas Deane was believed to have been painted in Paris, France. No subsequent scholarship has found evidence to support this attribution. (Schoelwer and Hudson 4/26/2007) Construction Note: According to a notation on an old file card, the ivory is backed with a piece cut from an old playing card, a three of hearts.
Inscription: "Mrs. Wm. C. Alden/ Boston" is engraved on the back of the pendant.
Object Number: 1937.35.1
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