Described in 1920 as the “Ingersoll” Washington, this portrait has long been attributed to Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) (“Portraits of Washington: Five Stuarts in Exhibition at Ehrich’s,” The New York Times, February 23, 1920, p. 12). However, the brushstrokes in the wig, the flesh tones of the face and the delineation of the shirt ruffle contrast with the renowned artist’s fluency and sense of depth. Instead, this portrait was most likely copied, probably during the early nineteenth century, from one of Stuart’s “Athenaeum” type portraits.
In 1923, Mantle Fielding noted that the portrait had been owned by Marshal Emmanuel, Marquis de Grouchy (1766-1847), a general in Napoleon’s army who sought refuge in America after his exile following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. While this history cannot be verified, Marshal Grouchy’s presence in the Philadelphia area from 1816 to 1821 and his known associates makes this assertion plausible. Grouchy was a close friend of Napoleon’s older brother, Joseph Bonaparte (1768-1844), who was in America from 1815 to 1839 and built an estate, Point Breeze, in Bordentown, New Jersey. Entries in the diary of Nicholas Biddle (1786-1844) indicate that Grouchy was a frequent guest at dinners attended by Biddle, Bonaparte and Charles Jared Ingersoll (1782-1862), whose brother, Joseph Reed Ingersoll (1786-1868), was noted to have owned the portrait offered here (Nicholas Biddle and Edward Biddle, “Joseph Bonaparte, as Recorded in the Private Journal of Nicholas Biddle, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 55, no. 3 (1931), pp. 203-224).
The jagged profile of the hair queue and the rendering of the shirt ruffle suggest that the source was an example painted by Stuart during his years in Philadelphia, 1796 to 1803 or possibly soon after when the artist’s family was living in Bordentown. No two of Stuart’s “Athenaeum” portraits are identical and demonstrate that Stuart varied details on each occasion. The overall outline of the shirt ruffle on the portrait offered here is close to Stuart’s portrait of Washington first owned by Edward Penington (1766-1834), a founder of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, now at the US Capitol (https://www.senate.gov/art-artifacts/fine-art/paintings/31_00004.htm). Penington’s associations with Philadelphia and Bordentown, New Jersey, make it likely that Penington’s portrait of Washington by Stuart was the inspiration for the portrait offered here. A Philadelphia Quaker sugar merchant, Penington had family in the Bordentown area and as indicated by an inscription, Stuart painted his niece, Ann Penington, in Bordentown in 1805 (Ellen G. Miles and Carrie Rebora Barratt, Gilbert Stuart (2004), p. 235, cat. 64).
If owned by Marshal Grouchy, the portrait was executed during his years in the Philadelphia area from 1816 to 1821, and remained in America when Grouchy returned to France. It passed into the hands of Joseph Reed Ingersoll, whose brother, Charles Jared Ingersoll, was an acquaintance of Grouchy’s as noted above. According to Mantle Fielding and Lawrence Park, the portrait was purchased by Frank Evans Marshall (1857-1915) at a sale of the effects of Joseph R. Ingersoll, who outlived his wife and children (see Literature above). The portrait was then sold to Albert Rosenthal (1863-1939), whose named is pencilled on the reverse. Rosenthal was an artist and dealer in Philadelphia with association to the Ehrich Galleries of New York where the portrait was exhibited in 1920. In 1935, it sold at an auction of property of “John J. Campbell” and others, raising the possibility that during the 1920s and 1930s, it was owned by John Joseph Campbell (c.1870-1934). Born in Ireland, Campbell immigrated to America in 1884 and was a successful “real estate man” who amassed a notable collection in his Upper West Side home in Manhattan (1930 US Federal census; “JOHN J. CAMPBELL.; New York Real Estate Man an Ex-Mayor of Monmouth Beach,” The New York Times, March 24, 1934, p. 16).