Colonel Benjamin Stephenson

  • Unidentified, Colonel Benjamin Stephenson, ca. 1800, watercolor on ivory, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1976.56

Luce Center Label

It is not always possible to identify the sitter in a miniature portrait, and research is still being done on some of the works in the Museum’s collection. Miniatures became popular in England during the early 1700s, commissioned by wealthy families on the occasions of births, engagements, weddings, and bereavements. These paintings, elaborately set into lockets or brooches, provided the wearer with a sentimental connection to a loved one. The back of the miniature often revealed a lock of the sitter’s hair, symbolizing affection, commitment, or loss. The daguerreotype, invented in 1839, provided a cheaper, faster alternative, and portrait miniatures grew less popular. At the turn of the twentieth century, with the establishment of the American Society of Miniature Painters, miniatures enjoyed a brief revival.

Colonel Benjamin Stephenson
ca. 1800
Not on view
sight 2 7/8 x 2 1/8 in. (7.2 x 5.3 cm) oval
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase

Mediums Description
watercolor on ivory
  • Portrait male – Stephenson, Benjamin – bust
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

More from artist

More Artworks from the Collection