Important portrait miniatures of George and Martha Washington will be sold at Shannon’s on October 27…

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The Meredith-Moreau-Pratt portrait miniature of President George Washington, painted in 1801 in watercolor and executed by Robert Field (estimated between $60,000 and $80,000).
Shannon Fine Art Auctioneers

MILFORD, Conn. – Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers will offer two famous portraits of President George Washington and First Lady Martha Washington at an auction scheduled for Thursday, October 27. . Prized by collectors as soon as they were made, the portraits disappeared from stories written in the 1920s. They were only recently rediscovered in a private collection.

Over the past month, Shannon’s has pieced together their exciting story. After Washington’s death in 1799, Martha Washington commissioned artist Robert Field to paint miniature portraits of her late husband. Over the next twelve months, Field painted at least eight miniatures of the first president—two depicting Washington in military uniform and six depicting him in civilian clothes.

The two military portraits were auctioned in 2008 and 2009 for $303,000 and $336,000, respectively. One was acquired by the Yale University Art Gallery. The Meredith-Moreau-Pratt miniature of President Washington, donated by Shannon’s, depicts him in civilian clothes. It is believed to be the first in the series painted by Field after a portrait by his friend Gilbert Stuart.

Field sold Washington’s civilian portrait to General Samuel Meredith, the first United States Treasurer under President Washington, for his son, Thomas Meredith. Then, in 1853, Samuel Meredith’s grandson sold the portrait miniature to Charles C. Moreau, a famous New York collector. Moreau then sold the portrait to another well-known collector of the time, Herbert Pratt.

In addition to the miniature portrait of President Washington, Pratt also acquired a rare miniature of First Lady Martha Washington, painted by Walter Robertson, probably in 1794. In 1927, Mrs. Washington’s portrait was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Since then it has been secured in a private collection, never seen by the public until now.

On the back of Mrs. Washington’s portrait is a braided lock of hair. It was a common way to remember a loved one who had passed away or passed away. It’s possible that Eleanor “Nellie” Custis commissioned the portrait of her mother and then added the hair as a personal sentiment.

“These are museum-quality miniatures of two of the most famous figures in American history,” said Sandra Germain, co-owner of Shannon’s Fine Art Auctioneers. “They are in incredible condition, given their age, and the story behind them is fascinating. Our customers are delighted to see them on the market and we look forward to the sale. We expect interest be quite high.

The auction will begin at 6 p.m. sharp EST at the company’s gallery at 354 Woodmont Road in Milford, near New Haven and just off I-95. The auction and preview are open to the public. For more information, you can visit Shannon’s website at www.shannons.com.

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