• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1959

    Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Prints And Decoys

    17 - 18 January 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 444

    WINTHROP CHANDLER (1747-1790), CIRCA 1772

    A Portrait of Jonathan Devotion

    Price Realised  

    WINTHROP CHANDLER (1747-1790), CIRCA 1772
    A Portrait of Jonathan Devotion
    Retains a handwritten note in ink on reverse of portrait with a biography of Jonathan Devotion, the history of ownership of painting, as well as the history of ownership of portraits of Ebenezer Devotion, Jr. and John Devotion.
    oil on canvas
    17 x 14 inches

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Jonathan Devotion (1769-1849), was three years old when his portrait was painted. He became a merchant in Norwich, Connecticut and married Roxana House. He also became involved in politics and briefly represented Norwich in the Connecticut General Assembly. After his wife's death in 1809, he married his widowed sister-in-law, Clarissa Tyler. They moved to Scotland, Connecticut where Jonathan was both a farmer and merchant as his father, Ebenezer had been. He inherited his father's house and land in 1829.


    Judge Ebenezer (1740-1829) and Eunice Huntington (1743-1827) Devotion, Scotland, Connecticut
    Eunice Devotion Waldo (1770-1854), daughter
    George Waldo (1816-1886), son
    Margaret Waldo (1816-1886), daughter
    Margaret Bowers (1886-1972), daughter
    Paul Bowers (1914-1975), son
    Thence by descent to current owner

    Pre-Lot Text

    The Devotion Family of Scotland, Connecticut

    The Devotion family of Windham and present day Scotland, Connecticut have been the subject of much scholarly attention and study because of the survival of a rich trove of written and artifactural documents that shed insight into the lives of three generations of this family in eastern Connecticut in the decades preceding and following the American Revolution. Much of this material heritage was brought together in an exhibition and accompanying catalog in 1991 at the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London, Connecticut. See Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, eds., The Devotion Family: The Lives and Possessions of Three Generations in Eighteenth Century Connecticut (New London, Connecticut, 1991). The exhibition grew out of the initial idea of reuniting a remarkable group of seven Devotion family portraits executed on the eve of the Revolution by Winthrop Chandler (1747-1790).

    Chandler was born and lived for most of his life in Woodstock, Connecticut, located in the northeast corner of this former colony and state. Pursuing an artisan's career as a house- and what Nina Fletcher Little has called a "general fancy painter", he began to paint portraits of his family and neighbors in Woodstock and the nearby communities of Brooklyn, Windham and Norwich, Connecticut. The Devotion family of Scotland, Connecticut were an important early commission for Chandler in 1770 as the Reverand Ebenezer Devotion and his wife, Martha Lathrop Devotion were prominent figures in the community. Two years later, Chandler painted five more portraits of Rev. Devotion's son, Judge Ebenezer Devotion (fig. 1), his wife Eunice Huntington Devotion and their daughter Eunice, and their three sons, Ebenezer, Jr., John and Jonathan. This important group of portraits had been separated over the years with Rev. and Mrs. Devotion ending up in the Brookline Historical Society, Brookline, Massachusetts; Judge Ebenezer Devotion in the Scotland Historical Society; Mrs. Eunice Huntington Devotion in the Lyman Allyn Museum; and Ebenezer, Jr., John and Jonathan in the possession of family descendants (the latter portrait, lot 444).

    It was the Devotion family portraits that enabled Nina Fletcher Little to confirm the identity of Winthrop Chandler and attribute other examples of his work as the 1829 will of Ebenezer Devotion, Jr. refers specifically to "the seven family pictures painted by Chandler." As Little has pointed out, it is ironic that Chandler, who struggled financially throughout his life, is today considered one of the most important provincial American artists of the Revolutionary period (Nina Fletcher Little, Paintings by New England Provincial Artists 1775-1800 (Boston, 1976), pp. 74-83).



    Nina Fletcher Little, "Winthrop Chandler," Art in America, 35, No.2 (April, 1947).
    Lance Mayer and Gay Myers, eds., The Devotion Family: The Lives and Possessions of Three Generations in Eighteenth-Century Connecticut (New London, 1991), p.16, Fig. 5.


    New York, David A. Schorsch Inc., Winthrop Chandler and His Contemporaries, 1989.
    New London, Connecticut, The Lyman Allyn Art Museum, The Devotion Family: The Lives and Possessions of Three Generations in Eighteenth-Century Connecticut, 1991.