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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Thomas Smith, American (died 1691, active 1670s-1680s)
Portrait of a Man, probably Sir George Downing (1624-1684)
Other Titles
Former Title: An Unknown Gentleman (probably Elisha Hutchinson; formerly identified as Sir George Downing, Bart.)
Former Title: Sir George Downing
Work Type
c. 1675-1690
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
sight: 110.5 x 91.2 cm (43 1/2 x 35 7/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: on rear stretcher in late eighteenth-century hand: "Sir George Downing Bart./ born August 1623--Embassador [sic]/ to the States General 1659-Son of/ Emmanuel Downing & Lucy Winthrop/ 4th daughter of Adam Winthrop-/ The nephew of John Winthrop/ Governor of Massachusetts--His/ diplomatic services...[illegible]... are well known to history."


Recorded Ownership History
Descent in Winthrop family to Mrs. Francis Bayard Winthrop, Sr., 1827; bequest to her son, Thomas Charles Winthrop (1797-1873), 1855; to Robert Winthrop, New York, 1919; his gift to Harvard College, 1946.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard University Portrait Collection, Gift of Mr. Robert Winthrop, Class of 1926, to Harvard College, 1946
Object Number
European and American Art

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Publication History

  • Ormundo DeKay, "George Downing: As Arrant a Rascal as Lives Amongst Men", Harvard Magazine (March-April 1981), vol. 83, no. 4, pp. 56A-56H, pp. 56A-56H
  • Louisa Dresser, "Portraits in Boston, 1630-1720", Archives of American Art (July-October 1966), vol. 6, no. 3-4, pp. 1-34, p. 16
  • Charles Knowles Bolton, The Founders: portraits of persons born abroad who came to the colonies in North America before the year 1701, Boston Athenaeum (Boston, MA, 1919 - 1926), vol. II, frontispiece (as George Downing); pp. 383-84.
  • John Beresford, The Godfather of Downing Street: Sir George Downing, 1623-84. An Essay in Biography, R. Cobden-Sanderson (London, 1925), frontispiece
  • Louisa Dresser, XVIIth Century Painting in New England, exh. cat., Worcester Art Museum (Worcester, MA, 1935), p. 168
  • Samuel Eliot Morison, Harvard College in the Seventeenth Century, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1936), p. 84, ill. opp. p. 84
  • "Number Ten", Harvard Alumni Bulletin (Cambridge, MA, July 1947), vol. 49, no. 18, p. 757, p. 757
  • Hector Bolitho, No. 10 Downing Street, 1660-1900, Hutchinson & Co. (London, England, 1957), frontispiece
  • Waldron P. Belknap, Jr., American Colonial Painting: Materials for a History, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1959), pp. 216-218, ill. pl. I
  • H.C. Warwick and Henry C. Pitz, Early American Dress, B. Blom (New York, NY, 1965), pl. 10
  • Jonathan L. Fairbanks and Robert F. Trent, New England Begins: The Seventeenth Century, exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA, 1982), pp. 419, 440, 469, 472-73, cat. 447; pl. XXIX.
  • Anne H. Vogel, American Colonial Portraits from the Fogg Art Museum and Harvard University, exh. cat., Milwaukee Art Museum (Mikwaukee, WI, 1983), ill. n.p.
  • Lillian B. Miller, "The Puritan Portrait: Its Function in Old and New England", Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts (1984), vol. 63, pp., p. 173, fig. 21
  • Christopher Jones, No. 10 Downing Street: The Story of a House, British Broadcasting Corporation (London, 1985), p. 36
  • Wayne Craven, Colonial American Portraiture, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England, 1986), pp. 75-76, fig. 36
  • Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, "Furniture as Social History: Gender, Property and Memory in the Decorative Arts", American Furniture, Chipstone Foundation (Milwaukee, WI, 1995), pp. 39-68, pp. 42, 45, fig. 5
  • Roger Downing and Gijs Rommelse, A fearful gentleman: Sir George Downing in The Hague, 1658-1672, Verloren (Hilversum, 2011), p. 117, fig. 5
  • John C. Eastberg and Eric Vogel, Layton's Legacy: A Historic American Art Collection, 1888-2013, University of Wisconsin, Madison (Milwaukee and Madison, 2013), p. 384, ill. p. 386
  • Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press (U.S.) and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), pp. 21, 405, 437, cat. 398, ill.

Exhibition History

  • American Colonial Portraits from the Fogg Art Museum and Harvard University, Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, 06/01/1983 - 06/30/1983

Related Works

Verification Level

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