Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Portrait of Sarah Bowdoin

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Portrait of Sarah Bowdoin
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Louis-Léopold Boilly


Portrait of Sarah Bowdoin

Creation Date

ca. 1806-1808

Medium & Support

oil on canvas


8 9/16 in. x 6 9/16 in. (21.75 cm x 16.67 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Donald, Class of 1956, and Susan Zuckert

Accession Number



Public Domain

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This winsome, wistful portrait of the wife of James Bowdoin III has an intriguing history. Painted while the Bowdoins were on diplomatic business in Paris by Boilly, one of the most popular French artists of the Napoleonic period, it surfaced on the art market at an estate sale in northern France in the summer of 1999. Correspondence from the 1960s in the Museum's files suggests that the work once belonged to a Bowdoin descendent "in the neighborhood" of the college. Since 1870 the Museum has owned another, slightly earlier, portrait of Sarah Bowdoin by Gilbert Stuart, one of the best-known American portraitists of the time; the two paintings provide fascinating points of comparison between French and American attitudes toward paint, pose and personal psychology.
Keywords: Portrait  

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