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American Paintings and Sculpture
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: Robert Field, British, ca. 1769–1819


ca. 1805

Watercolor on ivory

2 3/4 × 2 1/8 in. (7 × 5.4 cm)
Lelia A. and John Hill Morgan, B.A. 1893, LL.B. 1896, M.A. (Hon.) 1929, Collection

Robert Field was born in London and enrolled at the Royal Academy in 1790. Recognizing the opportunities awaiting a young artist in the former British colonies, he left for America in 1794. As one of the most accomplished British-born miniaturists working in this country, Field painted portraits of prominent citizens in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, and Boston. In marked contrast to most American portraitists, whose miniatures were densely painted on small ivory disks, Field brought with him a more luminous technique and the use of thinner, larger pieces of ivory. His luminous technique is apparent in this miniature of an unidentified gentlemen. Field’s travels to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Boston underscore the fluidity with which the new British style of miniature painting spread throughout America and the Empire. After moving as an itinerant among East Coast cities, Field left America for Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1808 to take advantage of wealthy Loyalist exiles’ penchant for watercolor miniatures as well as oil portraits. Until 1816, the painter remained in Halifax before sailing to Jamaica, where he worked for three years. He died of yellow fever in Kingston.

Made in Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Not on view
18th century
Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.