Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico

DISCOVERY

 

Artist: Raphaelle Peale (1774-1825)

Title: Portrait of Henry Lunt, Jr., Age 29, Philadelphia 1805

[Born Newburyport, Mass. 1776 - Died ca.1850s]

Date: 1805

Medium: Watercolor, ink, and graphite on paper; paper embossed J. Parsons Bristol

Dimensions: 5½ x 4½ inches

Inscribed at upper right recto: 29 Years A age [suggesting the artist’s hand]

Note: Included was the original frame with a manuscript document and a sample of Henry Lunt's hair, presumably from 1805.

Provenance


Henry Lunt, Jr.


By descent in the family (as unknown artist)


Estate of Phyllis Montgomery ( as unknown artist and unknown sitter )


Fred R. Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, NM , 2006 (here attributed by FRK to Raphaelle Peale and the subject identified as Henry Lunt Jr.)

Private Collection

 

Transcription of Accompanying Lunt Manuscript Document

 

Memo 6th October 1852

This was taken at Philadelphia 1805 by a younger Peale when I was 29 years old—Peales Father a celebrated Miniature Painter in the year 1781 in Philadelphia Painted a miniature likeness of my Father at the time my father was about leaving the Continental service under the command of the Chevalier Paul Jones then of the ship Ariel—Peale Painted also a miniature of Jones about the same time from which several copies by other Artists have been taken—At the time my fathers miniature was taken he was only 26 years of age—There are satisfactory documents to show that my father as an officer was a great favorite of Jones’s.

H. Lunt

 

Discussion of the Raphaelle Peale profile portrait of Henry Lunt Jr.

 

The portrait descended in the much extended and diluted family of Henry Lunt, Jr. and carried no specific identification other than its companion document.  It was passed on recently as part of an estate dispersal, as “a distant relative [ unnamed ] on Phyllis Montgomery’s mother’s side” and with no designated authorship. 

FRK determined the subject to be Mr. H. Lunt whose very difficult to read signature appears on the companion document.  The overwritten parts ("H" & "L") of the signature were obviously added for clarity, finally offering a good clue which led to his identity and more.  

Lunt Jr.'s father, as correctly referenced but not named in Lunt Jr.'s note, was certainly 2nd Lt. Henry Lunt (of Newburyport, Mass.), an officer in Captain John Paul Jones's Continental Navy. Lunt is officially listed among the Continental Navy officers and (as Lunt. Jr. notes) is mentioned many times in JPJ's papers and in Naval papers. 

Based on the evidence at hand, FRK titled the Raphaelle Peale profile portrait Henry Lunt, Jr., Age 29, Philadelphia 1805.

The Raphaelle Peale authorship is unquestionably a correct attribution, based on the published certainty of his authorship of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art portrait Rubens Peale, an exact stylistic comparative to Henry Lunt, Jr.  The attribution also developed from a suggestive clue, the “younger Peale” reference in Lunt’s written testimony. A number of younger Peale artists were considered.  Only two examples ( including Henry Lunt Jr. ) of Raphaelle Peale's work in this rare profile portrait genre have been located. 

According to the Lunt family geneology, the first Lunt in America, Henry Lunt, came from England in 1634 and settled in Newburyport, MA, where many subsequent generations flourished .  His son Ensign Henry Lunt (1651-1709) apparently began the naval tradition in the British Navy.  The name Henry Lunt carries through the 17th, 18th and into the 19th centuries. 

A surprising discovery!  Three, possibly four, nautical novels comprising the “Henry Lunt Series” were written by a Lunt descendant, Tom McNamara (as yet unlocated).  Lt. Henry Lunt and John Paul Jones are the main characters. 

As yet, little has been discovered of the life of Henry Lunt Jr.

 

Historical Note:

Seeking agreement, all of the combined above information (including a good image) was discussed with the following scholars: Ellen Miles (Senior Curator, National Portrait Gallery, author of Saint Memin and the Neoclassical Profile Portrait in America), David Ward (Historian, Peale Project, National Portrait Gallery ), Anne Sue Hirshorn (Peale Specialist, Curator, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum ), Sarah Coffin ( Specialist American Miniature Portraits, Curator, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum ).  None deemed it appropriate to confirm FRK's attribution or to offer support for it.

 

Sold to a distinguished private collection

 

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