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    Sale 2133

    American Furniture and Decorative Arts including English and Dutch Delft

    23 January 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 212

    Joseph Alexander Ames (1816-1872), 1864-1865

    Portrait of Abraham Lincoln

    Price Realised  


    Joseph Alexander Ames (1816-1872), 1864-1865
    Portrait of Abraham Lincoln
    inscription on stretcher reads I was given __ my/grandfather, Martin Parry Kennard/and came to me before his death/Wilfred Buckley
    oil on canvas
    22 1/8 x 16 in.

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    During the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, photographs of Lincoln flourished to help satisfy what seemed to be an insatiable demand for his image. While he sat for numerous photographers, notably Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner, few portraits from life exist. This portrait, executed in a free style with expressive paint handling characteristic of the work of Joseph Alexander Ames, is one of several paintings Ames created of the beloved President between 1864 and 1865.

    Boston painter Joseph Alexander Ames revered Lincoln. A contemporary account of the artist records that, "Mr. Ames had seen and loved the President, had talked with him and studied his features well" ("Portrait of Abraham Lincoln," Dwight's Journal of Music (Boston, April 29, 1865) in Mass Goodspeed, Portraits, Drawings, Game & Sport, Views & Maps, Fine Prints, Marines, Etc. (Boston, 1945), p. 4). Ames' wife, sculptor Sarah Fisher Ames also held a relationship with the President through her time as a nurse in charge of a hospital at the Capitol during the Civil War and completed several busts of Lincoln from life (Rufus Rockwell Wilson, Lincoln in Portraiture (New York, 1935), p. 179).

    According to the family inventories of Wilfred Buckley's estate, Moundsmere Manor, this painting was located in the drawing room and is listed as painted from life (Law, Fowlsham, and Cole, "A Valued Inventory: Moundsmere Manor" (1923 and 1932). Another portrait of Lincoln, now in the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey was also previously in Buckley's collection (fig. 1). Holding strong stylistic similarities between the now offered example, this painting was described as being "one of the few portraits of that great man [Lincoln] which were done from life" (Country Life (March 10, 1910), p. 378).

    The portrait offered here was originally owned by Martin Parry Kennard (1818-1903), an avid collector of historical documents and autographed letters (Probate Record, Martin Parry Kennard, Norfolk County, filed November 23, 1903). He established the successful business firm of Bigelow, Kennard & Co. and, upon leaving the commercial business world, he served as sub-treasurer of the United States in Boston for thirteen years under Presidents Hayes, Arthur, Harrison and Cleveland. Much like Lincoln, Kennard was a Whig who joined the Republican Party upon its formation and was moved by strong anti-slavery sentiment (John William Denehy, A History of Brookline, Massachusetts (Brookline, Massachusetts, 1905), p. 224).

    Before Kennard's death, the painting was inherited by his grandson Wilfred Buckley, probably while he was residing in New York from 1895 to 1905. A wealthy shipping merchant, Buckley returned to England and resided at Moundsmere Manor at Preston in the English countryside until his death in 1933. A collector of paintings and antiquities, Buckley's collection of antique glass remains an important part of the Victoria and Albert Museum (Philip Sheail, "Wilfred Buckley of Moundsmere and the Clean Milk Campaign," Hampshire Papers (May 25, 2003).


    Martin Parry Kennard (1818-1903), Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Boston and Brookline, Massachusetts
    Wilfred Buckley (1873-1933), New York and United Kingdom, grandson
    Christie's South Kensington, May 24, 2006, lot 75

    Pre-Lot Text