Jeremiah Williams

Media - 1977.101.1 - SAAM-1977.101.1_2 - 136315
Copied Christian Gullager, Jeremiah Williams, ca. 1789-1790, oil on canvas, 29 5824 34 in. (75.462.9 cm), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase, 1977.101.1
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Artwork Details

Jeremiah Williams
ca. 1789-1790
29 5824 34 in. (75.462.9 cm)
Credit Line
Museum purchase
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Portrait male — Williams, Jeremiah — waist length
Object Number

Artwork Description

Jeremiah Williams was a merchant from Roxbury, Massachusetts, who dealt in "a general assortment of West-India Goods," according to the 1789 Massachusetts Centinel. In 1787 he married Matilda Davis, whose father, Caleb Davis, was a significant figure in Boston society. Williams's obituary mentioned his wealthy father-in-law, suggesting that the union with Matilda elevated his own status in society (Sadik, Christian Gullager: Portrait Painter to Federal America, 1976). Christian Gullager painted the young merchant wearing handsome clothing and a stern, imposing expression. The papers in the sitter's hand and books on the table behind were often incorporated into colonial paintings to emphasize the sitter's education and refinement. Williams's portrait projects a social standing that men of his class aspired to, even if they had not yet achieved it.