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Preview image of work. oil on canvas,  Portrait of Elizabeth Bowdoin and James Bowdoin III 216

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Portrait of Elizabeth Bowdoin and James Bowdoin III

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Joseph Blackburn (ca. 1730 – after 1778)


Portrait of Elizabeth Bowdoin and James Bowdoin III

Creation Date

ca. 1760


18th century


36 7/8 in. x 58 1/16 in. (93.7 cm. x 147.4 cm.)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

oil on canvas

Credit Line

Bequest of Mrs. Sarah Bowdoin Dearborn


Public Domain

Accession Number


When Blackburn passed through Boston sometime around 1760, the Bowdoin family already owned portraits by Joseph Badger, Robert Feke, and others. Nevertheless, James Bowdoin II lost no time in securing Blackburn’s talents to depict young James III and his sister Elizabeth. The result is this unusual double portrait, which is at once a charming portrayal of children and an assertively up-to-date statement of their importance as the rising generation of one of New England’s most prominent families. Indeed, Blackburn subtly alludes to the family’s crest, which includes three birds, through the bird held by the James III and the two in his cap.

Keywords: portraits   girl   boy   Portrait   feather   colonial   child   bird   fruit