Deaf and mute from birth, John Brewster Jr. was the son of a Connecticut doctor who encouraged him to learn to read and write. Exhibiting a natural talent for painting, Brewster was professionally trained, and his earliest portraits reflect the style of prominent Connecticut artists. Beginning in 1796 Brewster often lived with his brother, Royal, and sister-in-law, Dorcas Coffin Brewster, in what is today Buxton, Maine, and his compelling likenesses of many southern Maine residents survive. Brewster likely secured this commission for the Reverend Daniel Little (1724–1801) of nearby Wells through Paul Coffin, Dorcas’s father and pastor of Buxton’s Congregational Church. Little’s direct gaze and sharp features convey his forthright character. A learned Congregational minister, Little was recognized for his mission to the Wabanaki for whom he compiled a dictionary. However, his work focused on creating a more effective way to convert Wabanaki people to Christianity rather than to document their language and culture.
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