Measurement: Frame: 52.25" x 64.5"; view: 44.25" x 57.25"
Material: Oil on canvas
Condition: Re-stretched and lined, very minor inpaint
Recorded:Whitney Museum of Art History Purpose and Activities with a Complete List
of Works in its Permanent Collection to June 1937, page 23; Mario Amayo, “Art: The
Family Together-Paintings of Life at Home,” in Architectural Digest (December 1977),
page 116, illus. in color.
Exhibited: Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, Florida, 1976, At Home.
Ex collection: Whitney Museum of Art, New York.
Additional Information: An unknown affluent family within a well-appointed room, eight
children, mother, father, and mother-in-law. Most of the well-dressed children are posed
with a prop. The oldest girl holds a fan, the young lady to her right holds’ flowers; the
child positioned before her father listens to a pocket watch. The younger brother
watches his sibling sketching…they are flanked by the girl in pink dress holding a hoop
while her sister holds a whip-like staff to which is attached a ribbon displaying the colors
of the American flag.
Stearns, a Vermont native, was born Lucius Sawyer however, after a falling-out with his
father who disapproved of his artistic endeavors, he changed his name. He was
recognized by the public when he submitted the Millennium to the National Academy of
Design in 1838. By 1840 Sterns was accepted and embraced by the New York art
community. The artist created a serious of paintings inspired by the life of George
Washington of which many were sold as prints…the popularity of these prints, other
paintings depicting historic scenes and the mastery he developed and conveyed in his
paintings gained him much attention and respect on the American stage. He was
elected associate member of the national Academy of Design in 1848; elevated to full
academician in 1849; served as the academy’s recording secretary 1851-1865.
Stearns traveled in Europe during the late 1840s, during the 1850s focused on
domestic genre paintings, portraits, and sporting pictures. His works are held by such
noted institutions as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Butler Institute of American Art,
and New-York Historical Society. Sterns was killed in a carriage accident near his home
in Brooklyn in 1885.
Unique in its style and subject matter, pastel portraits from the first half of the nineteenth
century are exceedingly rare in this outstanding condition. The vibrant colors and
imagery are pleasing. It is interesting that the elder brother standing in the center has a
striking resemblance to his father while three young children closely resemble the
mother…sharing blue eyes and facial features that the young man does not have in
common. This could simply be coincidence, or the young man may be progeny of the
gentleman’s first marriage with the three younger children resultant of the current union.
Each of the children hold an object that may represent their virtue, youth, and learning.
On the book cover is a fine  written in pencil, perhaps suggesting the year of the
painting’s creation. Pastel is an extremely delicate medium, the exacting level of detail,
the distinct expressions, and textiles suggest an artist with some formal training.
The painting was recently expertly reframed; the backboards had previously not been
disturbed…within were found Vermont newspaper fragments. (Pictures available)
(Fine condition; frame: 22.5 x 30.5"; view: 27 x 18.5")
An attractive blue-eyed family seated at a table…the child holding a basket of cherries
places cherries in moms’ hand; dad may be an architect as he is drawing, and a divider
is before him. This agreeable composition is colorful, remains on original stretcher
within original frame. The canvas is wax lined, two tears restored: extremely minor
scattered in-paint. (48.25" x 35.25" x 3.25" framed)
The appeal of Blackburn's work is apparent in this half-length portrait of a stylish young lady with fashionably rouged cheeks rendered in an elegant pose; a pinned ribbon ornaments her bodice and meticulously rendered lace is featured on her sleeves and the square-cut neck of her dress. The subjects outstretched arms and hands are typical of Blackburn's oeuvre. The canvas was long ago re-stretched; there is extremely minor scattered in-painting.
(Dimensions: 27.75 by 35.75".)
(Long ago stretched and mounted; very minor fill in background; frame: 31 by 36”, sight-size: 24 by 29.5”)
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