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Charles Apthorp

Charles Apthorp


Robert Feke

(American, c. 1707-1752)

Oil on canvas

Framed: 141.5 x 117.5 x 7.5 cm (55 11/16 x 46 1/4 x 2 15/16 in.); Unframed: 127 x 101.5 cm (50 x 39 15/16 in.)

Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1919.1006


Called "the greatest merchant on this continent" in his obituary, the London-born and Boston-based Charles Apthorp (1698–1758) helped transform his adopted city into one of the key commercial centers in the American colonies. When the fashionable painter Feke came to town, Apthorp not only commissioned this likeness of himself, but also portraits of his wife and daughter. Richly dressed and confidently posed, Apthrop is the very image of stable wealth and prominent social position. The unfolded letter on the table and distant sailing ship symbolize the dynamic exchange of credit and goods by which he earned his wealth.

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