JOHN WOLLASTON (1710-1775). PORTRAIT OF ROBERT JAMES LIVINGSTON (1729-1771), CIRCA 1750.Est. $7,000-$10,000
Sold: $26,400 ($22,000)
Robert James Livingston was the grandson of Robert Livingston (1623-1725), nephew of the first proprietor of Livingston Manor, an estate of 160,000 acres along the upper Hudson River. Born in Albany, he married Susanna Smith in 1747 and settled in New York City, working as a merchant. His portrait closely resembles Wollaston’s portrait of William Smith Jr., Livingston’s brother-in law, painted in 1751. In Robert James Livingston’s last will and testament, he bequeathed “to my son William (Smith Livingston) my own picture and to my son James, I give the pictures of my Grandfather and Grandmother.”John Wollaston came to America in the 1740’s from London. Trained as a drapery painter and practiced in the latest English style of portraiture, Wollaston found himself in great demand among wealthy Colonial patrons. He worked in New York from 1749-1752 and painted at least nine portraits of members of the influential Livingston family. Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches. No signature is visible. The stretcher inscribed “Rob. James Liv.” and “96”; the canvas lining inscribed “Wollaston, J.,” “Robert James Livingston” and “Damar/ Sept. 1991.”
Provenance: Sloan’s Auction Galleries, North Bethesda, Maryland, July 5, 1991, lot 3081, Property of a Prominent American Museum; Hanzel Galleries, Chicago, October 20, 1991, lot 51; Professor Jay Fliegelman, 1999, to the present owner.
Literature: For Wollaston’s portrait of William Smith Jr., see Ruth Piwonka, “A Portrait of Livingston Manor, 1680-1850,” 1986, p 108.