American Artist: Nathaniel Hancock
Federalist Era Lady of the Ridgely Family
by Nathaniel Hancock (1762-1833)
1 1/4 x 1 5/8 inches (sight)
watercolor on ivory; housed under beveled glass (removed for the photo)
in a gold case with "Ridgely / 1791" engraved to the reverse
About the Artist: Very little is known about Nathaniel Hancock’s origins or where he received his artistic training. His presence as a painter was first documented in Boston, in 1789, when he published newspaper advertisements announcing his return to that city (implying that he had lived in or painted in Boston prior to 1789) and the opening of his studio on Federal Street. In November 1793, he advertised having a studio on Boston’s Tremont Street. A mere four months later, in March 1794, he published new ads notifying patrons that he had abandoned his Tremont Street studio in favor of a chamber on Court Street, located above the painting room of portrait painter John Johnston (1753-1819). (Interestingly, Hancock’s miniatures of the mid 1790s show an evolved style and maturity that is clearly indicative of influence by the older Johnston.) From 1795, Hancock then began a period of travel, alternating his time between Boston and several other cities, typically for a season at a time. In particular, he is known to have painted in Petersburg, Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, Portland, Maine, Exeter, New Hampshire, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Salem, Massachusetts, and Newburyport, Massachusetts. His painting activity was last documented in March 1809, when he advertised his services as a miniature painter in Newburyport. After 1809, details about the last 24 years of Hancock’s life remain foggy. He died on March 25, 1833, at the age of 71, at the McLean Asylum for the Insane, located in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Listed by Blättel (pages 436-437), Bolton (pages 78-79), Groce & Wallace (page 289), and Johnson (pages 130-131).
Other portraits in the Tormey-Holder Collection by Nathaniel Hancock
(click photo for larger view and additional information):
Federalist Era Gentleman with the Initials "MK"
Federalist Era Gentleman (Possibly a Ship's Captain)
Wearing a Double Breasted Coat with Gold Buttons
Federalist Era Gentleman Wearing a Brown Coat
with Gold and Cream Colored Facings