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Preview image of work. watercolor on ivory,  Portrait of the Honorable James Bowdoin III 3641


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Portrait of the Honorable James Bowdoin III

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Edward Greene Malbone (Newport, Rhode Island, 1777 - 5/7/1807, Savannah, Georgia); [after Gilbert Stuart]


Portrait of the Honorable James Bowdoin III

Creation Date

ca. 1804


19th century


3 1/8 in. x 2 1/2 in. (7.94 cm x 6.35 cm)

Object Type


Creation Place

North America, United States

Medium and Support

watercolor on ivory

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Dorothy Hupper in honor of President and Mrs. Kenneth C. M. Sills


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number


The intimate portrait miniature, an artistic tradition imported from England, reached its height of popularity in America in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Born in Rhode Island, Edward Greene Malbone sought clients in cities from Boston to Charleston. His fine likenesses on ivory of James Bowdoin III, the College’s founder, and his sister Elizabeth Bowdoin Temple reveal his talent as the leading miniaturist of his time. A costly material prized for its creamy color, natural beauty, and translucence, ivory was thinly sliced from tusk or whalebone. With advances in sea trade, elephant ivory was exported from East Africa in ever increasing amounts. Harvesting elephant tusks was slave-dependent and hundreds of thousands of Africans are believed to have died in this trade. As demand for ivory continued into the 1800s, it decimated the African elephant.

Keywords: portraits