Merchant Samuel Vaughan has an air of relaxed, comfortable prosperity as he sits at his writing desk. The books next to him (one of which bears his initials and the date 1760) are probably ledgers containing accounts of his business.
Artist Robert Edge Pine painted this pair of portraits in London, where Samuel Vaughan, a West Indian trader and planter, had settled and become a prominent businessman. Vaughan’s wife, Sarah, was the daughter of Benjamin Hallowell of Boston, Massachusetts. Vaughan became one of Pine's most important patrons and he, his wife and all of their eleven children sat to the artist.
In 1783 Vaughan moved to Philadelphia, joining his son, John, who worked in the Philadelphia branch of the family firm. Vaughan remained until 1790, when he returned to London. Vaughan remained in contact with Pine after relocating to the United States. He offered the artist considerable assistance when Pine also reached America in 1783. Pine also painted a portrait of Vaughan in Philadelphia, in about 1785. This later portrait was presented to the American Philosophical Society (where it remains) by the sitter’s son, John.
Portrait painter Robert Edge Pine, son of the engraver John Pine, was born in London and practiced in London and Bath. He moved to the United States, believing his talents were unappreciated in England, and also sympathetic to the American cause. By August 1784 he had settled with his family in Philadelphia, where he was assisted by painter Charles Wilson Peale. In the spring of 1785 he visited Mount Vernon for about three weeks and painted portraits of George Washington and others. Pine intended to paint a series of portraits of prominent men of the Revolutionary era, each illustrating a moment in history. However, after his death many of his paintings were destroyed in a fire in 1803 at Bowen’s Columbian Museum in Boston.
Samuel Vaughan (1720-1802) trader, garden designer and philosopher
Oil on canvas
height: 125.00 cm, width: 99.00 cm
Purchased from Sotheby's, 11 July 1990
By descent in the Vaughan family to Miss Vaughan, later Mrs Dove; thence by family descent; 'the property of a gentleman'; by whom sold through Sotheby's, London, 'British Paintings' sale, on 11 July 1990 (Lot 37); from which sale purchased by the Government Art Collection
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