Robert Fulton (1765-1815), 1815
| Elizabeth Emmet (1794-1878)
| after Benjamin West (1738-1820)
| oil on canvas
| 36 x 27 3/4 (91.44 x 70.49)
| Gift of Clarence Bowen, 1935
| Weis 61
Ex Coll.: Artist; 1. in the possession of Mrs. David Colden by 1864; presented by her to the Reverend Francis Vinton in 1864; to his daughter Gertrude Vinton in 1872; purchased from her estate by the donor, 1935.
1909, ‘Hudson Fulton Celebration,’ New-York Historical Society.
Cadwallader Colden, Life of Fulton (New York: Kirk & Mercein, 1817), frontispiece. Engraving by William Satchwell Leney (1796-1831).
Thomas Addis Emmet, Thomas Addis Emmet and Robert Emmet (New York: The Emmet Press, 1915), 525.
R. W. G. Vail, ‘The Robert Fulton Portraits,’ Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 45 (October 1935): opp. 183.
Helmut von Erffa and Allen Staley, The Paintings of Benjamin West (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), 507.
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1. The pre-1864 provenance of this work is unclear. Three possibilities were outlined by R. W. G. Vail in ‘The Robert Fulton Portraits,’ Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 45 (October 1935): 183-92. When this painting arrived at AAS, it was accompanied by a written statement from the Reverend Francis Vinton declaring that it had been painted ‘for Mr. Charles Wilkes,’ who gave it to his daughter Mrs. David Colden. However, in 1909 a Fulton descendant, Alice Crary Sutcliffe, stated that this image was first owned by Cadwallader D. Colden, who passed it to his daughter-in-law Mrs. David Colden. This was accepted by Helmut von Erffa and Allen Staley in The Paintings of Benjamin West (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986), 507. Vail suggests a third possibility: according to the artist’s nephew, about 1847 the portrait was loaned to Dr. John W. Francis, the Emmet family’s physician, and was in his possession until at least 1857. Vail speculated that Mrs. David Colden may have purchased the portrait from the Francis estate in 1861.