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Capt. Henry P. Fleischman

ca. 1825 George Catlin Born: Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 1796 Died: Jersey City, New Jersey 1872 watercolor on ivory image (oval): 2 3/8 x 1 7/8 in. (6.1 x 4.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Bequest of Mary Elizabeth Spencer 1999.27.5 Not currently on view


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The Naval Library has no record of Henry Fleischman (1792-1835) having earned the rank of captain. He was captured once by the British, who had released him upon his oath not to fight against them again. Fleischman went on to serve on the USS Chesapeake under the name William Brown, a midshipman who previously had been posted aboard the ship. Fleischman’s actions were discovered and he was charged with “un-officer-like conduct” and falsifying his identity. Because of his youth and good record his only punishment was a public reprimand by the secretary of the Navy. George Catlin and his wife had planned to visit the Fleischmans at their home in St. Louis in October 1835, but arrived six months after the “Captain” died at sea. Although this miniature is dated 1825, it is possible that Catlin painted it on that trip, as a memorial for his friend’s grieving family.

Keywords

Occupation - military - captain

Portrait male - Fleischman, Henry P. - bust

painting - miniature

paint - watercolor

ivory