Portrait of a Gentleman

  • Unidentified, Portrait of a Gentleman, ca. 1840, watercolor, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Mrs. Henry L. Milmore through Mr. Henry L. Milmore, 1956.6.60

Luce Center Label

In the first decades of the nineteenth century, Roman artworks became fashionable among Americans. Men like this sitter imitated the short, combed-over hairstyles of ancient portrait busts. Beards, however, did not become widely accepted until the 1840s. Joseph Palmer, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, wore a beard in 1830 and was publicly criticized for what was then considered a violation of propriety. His church refused him Communion, and four men even attacked him to try and shave off the beard in the interests of “morality.” By 1845, beards were seen as a mark of masculinity.

Portrait of a Gentleman
ca. 1840
On View
Not on view.
sight 2 1/4 x 1 3/4 in. (5.7 x 4.4 cm) oval
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Bequest of Mrs. Henry L. Milmore through Mr. Henry L. Milmore

  • Portrait male – unidentified – bust
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI