The Bermuda Group (Dean Berkeley and His Entourage) Artist: John Smibert (American, born Scotland, 1688–1751)

ca. 1728–31

American Paintings and Sculpture

On view, 2nd floor, American Art before 1900

The Bermuda Group commemorated an ambitious venture to found a seminary in Bermuda. Frustrated with what he saw as a corrupt European civilization, the philosopher and Anglican cleric George Berkeley (far right) believed that only in the New World would a religious and cultural rebirth be possible. His patron, John Wainright (seated), commissioned the artist John Smibert (standing left), whom Berkeley had hired to teach at the new college, to create this portrait of the expeditionary party, which included two additional wealthy supporters and members of Berkeley’s family. When the seminary project failed for lack of funds, Berkeley’s entourage returned to England, but Smibert moved to Boston and established himself as America’s first professional painter. Despite Berkeley’s misfortune, his poem "Verses on the Prospect of Planting Arts and Learning in America" became a touchstone for the new nation: "There shall be sung another golden age / The rise of empire and of arts / . . . Westward the course of empire takes its way."


Oil on canvas


69 1/2 × 93 in. (176.5 × 236.2 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Isaac Lothrop

Accession Number



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 records is ongoing.



The painting remained in Smibert's studio until 1808, at which time it was the property of John Johnston; Isaac Lothrop, Plymouth, MA. (1808); Presented by Isaac Lothrop to President Dwight of Yale, as a present to Yale College
  • Edward S. Cooke, Jr., Inventing Boston: Design, Production, and Consumption (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2019), 106–107, fig. 114.
  • Donald L. Fennimore and Frank L. Hohmann III, Claggett: Newport's Illustrious Clockmakers (Winterthur, Del.: Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library, 2018), 26–27, fig. 11.
  • Deirdre Ni Chuanachain, Utopianism in Eighteenth-Century Ireland (Cork, Ireland: Cork University Press, 2016), 96, fig. 4.
  • Carolyn J. Weekley, Painters and Paintings in the Early American South (New Haven: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Virginia, 2013), 252, ill.
  • Karl Kusserow et al., Picturing Power (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), 331, fig. Fig. 174.
  • Karl Kusserow, "Technoloogy and Ideology in Daniel Huntungton's Atlantic Cable Projectors," American Art: Smithsonian American Art Museum 24 (2010): 100, fig. Fig. 8.
  • Karl Kusserow, "Technology and Ideology in Daniel Huntington's Atlantic Cable Projectors," American Art: Smithsonian American Art Museum Spring 2010 (2010): 100, no. Spring 2010, fig. 8.
  • Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 21, 28–29, ill.
  • Angela Miller et al., American Encounters: Art, History, and Cultural Identity (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2008), 120, fig. 4.29.
  • Barbara Novak, Voyages of the Self: Pairs, Parallels, and Patterns in American Art and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 5, fig. 1.3.
  • Margaretta M. Lovell, Art in a Season of Revolution: Painters, Artisans, and Patrons in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), fig. VIII.
  • Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 5–6, fig. 2.
  • Richard H. Saunders, John Smibert: colonial America's first portrait painter (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1995), 172–73, no. 71a, fig. 20.
  • Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983).
  • "George Berkeley with His Wife and Friends," Apollo 99 (February 1974): 134.
  • Katherine Neilson and Andrew Carnduff Ritchie, Selected Paintings and Sculpture from the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972).
  • Catalogue of paintings belonging to Yale College deposited in the South Room of the Trumbull Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: B. L. Hamlen, 1952), 7-10, fig. 6.
  • Henry Wilder Foote, John Smibert, painter; with a descriptive catalogue of portraits and notes on the work of Nathaniel Smibert (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1950), 131-133.
  • Frederick W Coburn, "John Smibert," Art in America (June 1929): 185.
  • William Dunlap, A history of the rise and progress of the arts and design in the United States (Boston, Mass.: C.E. Goodspeed & Co., 1918), vol 1., pp. 17, 25, 27.
  • Benjamin Rand, Berkeley and Percival (Cambridge: The University Press, 1914), 36-37, 39, 257.
  • F.B. Dexter, A catalogue, with descriptive notices, of the portraits, busts, etc. belonging to Yale University, 1892 (New Haven, Conn.: Press of Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor, 1892), 9-12.
  • Henry T. Tuckerman, Book of the artists : American artist life, comprising biographical and critical sketches of American artists : preceded by an historical account of the rise and progress of art in America ... : with an appendix containing an account of notable pictures a (New York: G. P. Putnam & Son, 1867), 42-43.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

human figures (visual works), portraits


Signed l.c. "Jo. Smibert fecit. 1729"

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