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Portrait of Robert Ball Hughes

 Robert Ball Hughes
Oil painting by John Trumbull (1756-1843), 1830/1839?
Courtesy of Frederick R. Brown III

     The Smithsonian SIRIS record references the record of the portrait in The Works of Colonial John Trumbull - Artist of the American Revolution, Revised Edition, New Haven: Yale UP, 1967, p. 43:

    Robert Ball Hughes (1806-68), British-trained sculptor
    Bust, probably 1839, New Haven.
    Frederic [sic] R. Brown, Jr., Ridgefield, Conn.

    According to the Sketch of the Life of Robert Ball Hughes, by Mrs. E. Ball Hughes, Col. John Trumbull painted this portrait and one of Mrs. Hughes in New York in 1830 (and not in 1839 as widely reported) while Ball Hughes was working on the large model for the statue of Alexander Hamilton.

    Robert Ball Hughes would have been  about 26 years old at the time this portrait was painted by the famous patriot and artist Col. John Trumbull.  See Col. John Trumbull for more information about Trumbull.  See Portrait of Elizabeth Ball Hughes for companion portrait by John Trumbull and information about possible second copies of both portraits.

    If the portraits were painted in 1839 (which I doubt), they would probably have been painted in Trumbull's "painting room" in his residence at the Stillman House in New Haven, CT.  Trumbull moved from New York to live with his niece, Harriet Stillman, and her husband in 1837 according to John Trumbull, Patriot-Artist of the American Revolution, by Irma B. Jaffe. Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1975, pp. 285-286.  Trumbull, who had only one good eye, would have been about 80 years old when he painted these portraits (if they were painted in 1839).  Ball Hughes would have been about 35.  In 1841, Trumbull returned to New York where lived the rest of his life.


Copy of the Portrait of Robert Ball Hughes
by Georgina Ball Hughes

    The painting above is a copy of the Trumbull painting by his older daughter, Georgina, who was well known as an accomplished painter.  She had it in her Dorchester home (the former family home, Sunnyside) at the time an article about Ball Hughes was written in the (Boston) Sunday Globe in March 1907.  She was quoted as saying "some good critics have been pleased to say that, in this instance, also, I closely followed the original in form and feature."

    The digital image above is from a very small black and white photograph of the portrait in the article The Poker Drawings of Ball-Hughes by Edward Daland Lovejoy, The Magazine ANTIQUES, September 1946, p. 175.

Source: Antique Hall of the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art


last update 2/20/2010

For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2010 

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