Friday, October 9, 2009


I was recently assigned, and subsequently treated, a pastel portrait by the artist Saint-Memin. Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Memin (lived 1770-1852, worked 1796-1810) was born in France and came to North America as an exile (French Revolution business). In America Saint-Memin took up engraving and eventually ended up running a highly successful portraitist. At first he was partners with Thomas Bluget de Valdenuit, but in 1797 when Valdenuit returned to France Saint-Memin carried on with the business alone.

Saint-Memin traveled up and down the Atlantic coast, working along the way and taking the likenesses of ordinary people as well as the important characters of the day. The pink background is nearly ubiquitous in his drawings: it was a ground layer, like gouache, that he applied to the paper initially. He returned to France in 1817 when his family regain their properties and ended his career as an artist, though he was a strong supporter of the arts for the rest of his life.

Alexander Hanson, 1803-1806

Paul Revere, 1800

Thomas Jefferson (TJ), 1804

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