Bowdoin College Museum of Art
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    Joseph Blackburn
  • Portrait of Elizabeth Bowdoin and James Bowdoin III,
  • ca. 1760
  • oil on canvas
  • 36 7/8 in. x 58 1/16 in. (93.7 cm. x 147.4 cm.)
  • Bequest of Mrs. Sarah Bowdoin Dearborn
  • 1826.11

Blackburn was an English painter active in American only between 1754 and 1763. This charming double portrait depicts the children, aged probably ten and eight respectively, not as miniature adults but as young, spirited, and engaging individuals. Blackburn’s familiarity with English rococo painting is visible in the children’s costume as well as in the overall delicate palette and handling. The imagined landscape behind functions almost as an artificial theatrical backdrop; soon painters would devote themselves to rendering the beauty and vastness of the American landscape.

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