Salem, Massachusetts, circa 1810
Oil on canvas, 22 x 29 inches, formerly put on a smaller stretcher, relined with in-painting to areas of paint loss
A rare double portrait by John Brewster, Jr. (1766-1854), this likeness of baby twins Josiah Coffin Dow (1809-1833) and Richard Weare Dow (1809-1840) can be reliably dated to circa 1810 given the age of the sitters. On May 4 of that year, John Brewster, Jr. advertised in the Salem Gazette, as did the sitters’ father, Josiah Dow (1783-1850) for his business of selling imported fabrics (Salem Gazette, 4 May 2010, pp. 1, 3). No doubt Josiah perused this newspaper and may have commissioned this portrait as a result of seeing Brewster’s advertisement. Both twins died at relatively young ages, Josiah at the age of 24 and Richard at the age of 31 in a widely reported tragedy of the burning of the steamer Lexington in Long Island Sound.
The portrait descended to their younger brother, George Worthington Dow (1811-1884) and then directly in the family until its sale at auction in 1981.
“A Look at the Auctions,” Antiques and the Arts Weekly, November 27, 1981, p. 48.
Lita Solis-Cohen, “Doyle’s Americana Sale,” Maine Antique Digest, January 1982, p. 10-A.
Harlan Lane, A Deaf Artist in Early America: The Worlds of John Brewster, Jr. (Boston, 2004), unpaginated inventory of works. Paul S. D’Ambrosio, The World of John Brewster, Jr. (New York, 2006), pl. 28.
Peter Goodman, Notebook, no. 744.
“A Deaf Artist in Early America: The Worlds of John Brewster Jr.,” Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, April 1-December 31, 2005, traveled to The American Folk Art Museum, New York, October 4, 2006-January 2007.
The sitters; to their brother George Worthington Dow (1811-1884), Boston and Salem, MA, Wakefield, NH, and Brooklyn, NY;
to his son Abbott Low Dow (1845-1914), New York, Derby, CT and Wakefield, NH;
to his daughter Cornelia Herriman (Dow) Bancroft (1872-1960), Brooklyn, Boston and Saint Petersburg, FL;
probably to her son Charles Foster Bancroft (1906-1982), Boston, New Canaan, CT and York, ME;
“Americana,” Doyle Galleries, New York, November 18. 1981, lot 108; Collection of Peter and Barbara Goodman, Rye, NY;
“The Collection of Peter and Barbara Goodman,” Christies, New York, January 20, 2022, lot 159