Description This miniature, signed "Sully 1797," was acquired with a paper suggesting it had been presented by Thomas Sully of Richmond, Virginia, to Mr. Edmund Roots of Richmond. A small number of other non-portrait miniatures by Sully are known; one, a memorial to his mother, can be found in the collections of the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven [accession number 1940.536]. A Mr. Roots is listed in Sully's register of portraits for 1805. An alternative theory is that this miniature was painted by Sully's older brother, Lawrence Sully, who was a miniature and device painter, and who, like Thomas, lived in Richmond in the last few years of the 18th century (see Edward Biddle and Mantle Fielding, "The Life and Works of Thomas Sully, 1783-1872," 1921). Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom, wearing a plummed helmet and blue cloak, enters from the right, and uses her shield to deflect Cupid's arrow. Cupid has been directed to shoot at the sleeping youth by his mother, Venus, who is seated with him on a cloud.
Provenance Mr. Edmund Roots, Richmond, [date of acquisition unknown] by gift [from the artist]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Signature] Bottom: Sully 1797; Stamped gilt metal mount
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters (?)
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