American Artist: Benjamin Trott
Unknown Early American Gentleman
Depicted with a Sky Background
by Benjamin Trott (ca. 1770-1843)
2 x 2 1/2 inches (sight)
watercolor on ivory; housed in a gilt metal pendant frame
formerly a holding of the John and Ann Windle Antique Collection (Madison, Indiana)
About the Artist: Benjamin Trott was born in Boston in about the year 1770. To date, research has not revealed where he received his training, but he possessed great skill and has long been considered one of the greatest American miniaturists of his day. Trott arrived to New York City in 1791, at which point he attracted the attention of the iconic early American portraitist Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), whom allowed Trott to copy his full-sized portraits in miniature. (Stuart referred to Trott, in fact, as the best and closest of his imitators.) In 1793, Trott departed New York for Philadelphia in the company of Stuart, with whom he maintained a decades-long friendship. In the years that followed, Trott migrated back and forth between Philadelphia and New York, and also traveled west to Kentucky and Ohio in search of commissions, before settling in Philadelphia in 1806. From 1809 to 1810, he shared a studio in Philadelphia with the esteemed portraitist Thomas Sully. He taught at the Society of Artists and he exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1811 to 1814. From Philadelphia, he occasionally traveled south in search of work in Norfolk and Charleston. In 1823, after having lived in Philadelphia for 17 years, he departed that city, following a failed marriage, and relocated to Newark, New Jersey. There he lived in relative obscurity until about 1829. Thereafter, he traveled between New York City, Boston, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. He died in Washington in 1843, at about the age of 73. He is known to have works in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City), the New-York Historical Society (New York City), the National Portrait Gallery (Washington, D.C.), the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Independence National Historical Park (Philadelphia), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and numerous important private collections. Listed by Benezit, Blättel (pages 896, 897), Barratt & Zabar (pages 80-83), Bolton (pages 156-159), Bolton & Wehle (pages 107, 108), Fielding (page 945), Johnson (pages 215-220), and Schidlof (page 830).